Trump administration launches investigation into French plan for tax on tech giants

Trump administration launches investigation into French plan for tax on tech giants
© Getty Images

The Trump administration on Wednesday announced an investigation into the French government over its plans to implement a tax on technology companies.

United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerOn The Money: Economy adds 164K jobs in July | Trump signs two-year budget deal, but border showdown looms | US, EU strike deal on beef exports Chinese, US negotiators fine-tuning details of trade agreement: report The Trump economy keeps roaring ahead MORE expressed concerns that the French digital tax could disproportionately affect American companies.

"The President has directed that we investigate the effects of this legislation and determine whether it is discriminatory or unreasonable and burdens or restricts United States commerce," Lighthizer said in a statement.

ADVERTISEMENT

The French finance minister said in March that the country would impose a 3 percent tax on the annual revenues of technology companies that make at least 750 million euros annually and provide services to users in the country.

The tax would affect multiple U.S. tech giants, including Apple, Google and Amazon.

The USTR investigation could serve as a precursor to the implementation of tariffs or other trade measures against France at a time when President TrumpDonald John TrumpJulián Castro: It's time for House Democrats to 'do something' about Trump Warren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest MORE has ignited trade disputes with other allies.

The USTR will conduct the assessment under the authority of Section 301, the same provision that Trump has used to cite national security concerns in imposing steep tariffs on Chinese imports.

Trump has faced criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike over his liberal use of tariffs as a negotiating tool. The U.S. and China have been engaged in a tit-for-tat trade dispute, and Trump has threatened Japan, Mexico and the European Union with tariffs over what he has deemed unfair trade relationships.

But Wednesday's investigation was greeted with bipartisan support.

Sens. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi unveils signature plan to lower drug prices | Trump says it's 'great to see' plan | Progressives pushing for changes Trump: 'Great to see' Pelosi plan to lower drug prices Pelosi unveils signature plan to lower drug prices MORE (R-Iowa) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Energy: California, 23 other states sue Trump over vehicle emissions rule | Climate strike protests hit cities across globe | Interior watchdog expands scope of FOIA investigation | Dems accuse officials of burying climate reports Microsoft to provide free updates for voting systems running Windows 7 through 2020 Interior watchdog investigating political appointees' review of FOIA requests MORE (D-Ore.) said the French policy "unfairly targets American companies in a way that will cost U.S. jobs and harm American workers."

Rep. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyLobbying groups ask Congress for help on Trump tariffs Republicans pour cold water on Trump's term limit idea Republicans' rendezvous with reality — their plan is to cut Social Security MORE (R-Texas), the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, said he backed the move from the Trump administration and called on France to scrap the measure altogether.