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 LighthizerGOP senator warns quick vote on new NAFTA would be 'huge mistake' Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 Pelosi sounds hopeful on new NAFTA deal despite tensions with White House 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 TrumpTrump passes Pence a dangerous buck Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Trump nods at reputation as germaphobe during coronavirus briefing: 'I try to bail out as much as possible' after sneezes 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 GrassleyMcSally unveils bill to lower drug prices amid tough campaign Ernst endorses bipartisan Grassley-Wyden bill to lower drug prices Overnight Health Care: Nevada union won't endorse before caucuses after 'Medicare for All' scrap | McConnell tees up votes on two abortion bills | CDC confirms 15th US coronavirus case MORE (R-Iowa) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: Dems cancel surveillance vote after pushback to amendments | Facebook to ban certain coronavirus ads | Lawmakers grill online ticketing execs | Hacker accessed facial recognition company's database On The Money: Coronavirus complicates Fed decision on rates | Schumer wants .5B in emergency virus funding | Dems offer bill to reverse Trump on military money for wall Hillicon Valley: Democrats cancel surveillance vote over pushback to amendments | Lawmakers grill Ticketmaster, StubHub execs over online ticketing | 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 BradyDemocrats, GOP spar over Treasury rules on Trump tax law Ex-HHS chief threatens to vote 'no' on surprise medical billing measure Bipartisan Ways and Means leaders unveil measure to stop surprise medical bills 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.