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

Trump administration launches investigation into French plan for tax on tech giants
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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 LighthizerPelosi sounds hopeful on new NAFTA deal despite tensions with White House On 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 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.

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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 TrumpGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Warren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes 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 GrassleySpeaker Pelosi, it's time to throw American innovators a lifeline Barr: Inspector general's report on alleged FISA abuses 'imminent' Pelosi aide hopeful White House will support drug-pricing bill despite criticism MORE (R-Iowa) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenAlcohol industry races to save tax break by year-end deadline GOP senator blasts Dem bills on 'opportunity zones' Pelosi aide hopeful White House will support drug-pricing bill despite criticism 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 BradyLawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families How centrist Dems learned to stop worrying and love impeachment On The Money: Senate passes first spending package as shutdown looms | Treasury moves to roll back Obama rules on offshore tax deals | Trade deal talks manage to weather Trump impeachment storm 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.