Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron (photomontage). - White House / AFP
No American surcharge on champagne and lipstick? A French diplomatic source said Monday an agreement between Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump to extend "until the end of the year" discussions on the taxation of digital giants, defended by Paris but which annoys Washington.
The French head of state and the American president "agreed to give a chance" to the negotiations in order to "find a solution in an international framework" and to avoid "a trade war which would be beneficial for nobody", has said a diplomatic source on Monday evening. "In the meantime, there would be no application of sanctions," she said.
In a tweet at the start of the evening, Emmanuel Macron described the discussion he had with his American counterpart as "excellent". "We will work together on a good agreement to avoid any escalation of customs tariffs," he said.
Excellent discussion with @realDonaldTrump on digital taxation. We will work together on a good agreement to avoid any escalation in prices.- Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) January 20, 2020
The tone of the Ministry of Finance remained more measured. Negotiations with the United States on French taxation of digital giants are "very difficult" and escaping sanctions that could be announced as early as Wednesday is "far from won", the French Minister for Finance noted earlier Monday 'Economy Bruno Le Maire on the LCI television channel.
Washington threatened in early December to overtax “up to 100%” the equivalent of $ 2.4 billion in iconic hexagonal products, in retaliation for France's imposition of a 3% tax on large companies in the accused of targeting mainly the American giants of the sector - the "GAFA" like Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple.
Champagne, dairy products including the emblematic Roquefort, leather handbags, cosmetics, porcelain dishes or even cast iron casseroles, which are very popular with American gourmets, would be targeted.
Paris, however, said it would drop its tax plan if an international agreement on digital taxation was reached. Since December, France has therefore been conducting intense negotiations within the framework of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to try to avoid this new burst of punitive American customs taxes.
"Terrible blow" for French wines
These would be added to the taxes already applied in October in the Airbus / Boeing trade dispute, which mainly affected non-sparkling wines of less than 14 degrees of alcohol, i.e. exports representing one billion euros in 2018 .
On January 7, the United States and France had given themselves fifteen days, until Tuesday, to allow the continuation of work at the OECD. "France pursues its objective of fair taxation of digital companies and to find a compromise within the framework of the OECD," said the Elysée on Monday.
The United States did not immediately react to the statements made on the French side on Monday. Bruno Le Maire is due to meet his counterpart Steven Mnuchin in Davos on Wednesday to discuss the continuation of discussions in the presence of the Secretary General of the OECD, Angel Gurria. "They will work," confirmed Monday evening a source familiar with the matter, adding "France will make proposals." A second American tax train "would be a terrible blow for French viticulture" recognized Bruno Le Maire on LCI.
However, while awaiting international taxation framed by the OECD, the minister is "certainly not" ready to give up, he said, or to reduce to "almost nothing" the tax which has since imposed on January 1, 2019 large digital companies with 3% of their turnover.
Gafa tax: French winegrowers fear being the big losers