France ready to take Trump’s tariff threat to WTO

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire speaks to media. Paris has long complained about US companies not paying enough tax on revenues earned in France. (AFP)
Updated 08 December 2019

France ready to take Trump’s tariff threat to WTO

  • Macron government will discuss a global digital tax with Washington at the OECD, says finance minister

PARIS: France is ready to go to the World Trade Organization to challenge US President Donald Trump’s threat to put tariffs on French goods in a row over a French tax on internet companies, its finance minister said on Sunday.

“We are ready to take this to an international court, notably the WTO, because the national tax on digital companies touches US companies in the same way as EU or French companies or Chinese. It is not discriminatory,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told France 3 television. Paris has long complained about US digital companies not paying enough tax on revenues earned in France.

In July, the French government decided to apply a 3 percent levy on revenue from digital services earned in France by firms with more than €25 million in French revenue and €750 million ($845 million) worldwide. It is due to kick in retroactively from the start of 2019.

Washington is threatening to retaliate with heavy duties on imports of French cheeses and luxury handbags, but France and the EU say they are ready to retaliate in turn if Trump carries out the threat. Le Maire said France was willing to discuss a global digital tax with the US at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), but that such a tax could not be optional for internet companies.

“If there is agreement at the OECD, all the better, then we will finally have a global digital tax. If there is no agreement at OECD level, we will restart talks at EU level,” Le Maire said.

He added that new EU Commissioner for Economy Paolo Gentiloni had already proposed to restart such talks.

France pushed ahead with its digital tax after EU member states, under the previous executive European Commission, failed to agree on a levy valid across the bloc after opposition from Ireland, Denmark, Sweden and Finland.

The new European Commission assumed office on Dec. 1.


UAE central bank backs anti-money laundering

Updated 25 September 2020

UAE central bank backs anti-money laundering

  • Move to safeguard financial stability in COVID-hit economy

DUBAI: The UAE central bank has said that banks should increase anti-money laundering efforts to safeguard financial stability in the country.

“To mitigate the risk of financial crimes . . . banks are urged to put more efforts towardcombating money laundering and financing of terrorism,” it said in a statement.

The bank said more than 300,000 individuals, close to 10,000 small and medium enterprises, and more than 1,500 private companies, had benefited from a 50 billion dirhams ($14 billion) liquidity scheme introduced to cushion against the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, the UAE reported its highest daily number of coronavirus infections since the start of the pandemic.

FASTFACT

 

The UAE Central Bank expects the country’s economy to contract by 5.2 percent this year.

In a separate report, the central bank said this week that the UAE economy would likely contract by 5.2 percent this year, revising down a previous 3.6 percent contraction forecast, as virus containment measures hurt sectors such as trade and tourism.

It said that manufacturing production shrank “due to supply chain disruptions, limited export opportunities and subdued domestic demand.”

The UAE said on Thursday that it would resume issuing visas to foreign visitors to all seven of its regions after a six-month suspension imposed due to the pandemic, state media reported.

Dubai, the region’s tourism and business hub and one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE, had already lifted its own visa ban in July.

The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship said in a statement carried in state media that the decision was taken as part of the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in the Gulf state as well as efforts to support economic recovery plans.

All six Gulf Arab countries have lifted internal curfews and lockdowns, but restrictions on gatherings and foreign travel remain in the oil-producing region, where the total number of COVID cases stands at more than 800,000, with more than 6,800 deaths.

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