I love you, me neither. The French and American presidents never cease to be hackneyed and to rebuff about the Gafa tax that France wants to introduce on the digital giants, including several American groups: Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple in mind ... In response, the United States threatened to tax 100% the equivalent of $ 2.4 billion (2.16 billion euros) of French products - wine, champagne, Limoges porcelain, cosmetics, etc. - but the two heads of state have, in extremis, buried the hatchet. Monday night, Emmanuel Macron announced that he would work with Donald Trump "on a good agreement to avoid any escalation of customs".
But beyond diplomatic language, did the Elysee Palace not bow to the threat? In fact, while waiting to find a compromise by the end of 2020, Paris froze its Gafa tax until December. "The first two installments of 2020, which were to be drawn in April and November, are postponed to December," said the cabinet of Bruno Le Maire, Minister of the Economy. If there is no agreement on an international digital tax, large companies will have to pay. "
Avoiding a “costly war”
We are far from the first glitz. This summer, France had punched the table by taxing - with retroactive effect to January 1, 2019 - large digital companies to the tune of 3% of their turnover. One way to keep up the pressure, which has been under discussion for several months in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). At the time, France's speech was firm - a sort of "You pay, we discuss" -. Today, the logic has been reversed - "Let's talk, maybe you will pay later ..."
"For Paris, the fundamental objective is to arrive at an international tax, not the maintenance of a tricolor tax, demine a senior official of the Ministry of the Economy. We are taking a step forward to the Americans, to get more time. There is no point in starting a trade war that would have been costly for our businesses. "
A few days ago, however, the speech was sharper in Bercy. Bruno Le Maire spoke of the small concessions made by France in recent months: "Our country has made considerable efforts to take account of American concerns regarding the solution to the OECD," he explained to us. We now expect the United States to show a sense of compromise. "
Change of music since Monday evening! “Bruno Le Maire is a diplomat, confides one of his relatives. He adapts, he moves the game. But now, the hardest part will be to settle the details ...
Washington faces the multiplication of Gafa taxes in Europe
Precisely, the Minister of Economy has an appointment this Wednesday with Steven Mnuchin, his American counterpart, during the annual high mass of the economy, in Davos in Switzerland. "This remains a difficult negotiation," said the minister. The devil is in the details, there are a number of things that need to be worked out, but I think we are going in the right direction. "
On the American side, there is no question of giving ground to France. Because the French tax has opened a breach, especially in Europe. "Italy and Austria have implemented a similar tax since January 1," said Bruno Le Maire recently. Britain and the Czech Republic are preparing to do so, like many other countries around the world. ” It is therefore urgent, in Washington, to kill in the egg these taxes which hit the big American companies.
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"The context of the presidential elections does not help, deciphers an expert in international relations. Donald Trump needs to be intransigent and equipped with an iron fist to give wages to Republican voters. "