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EU To Respond Strongly Against US Tariff Threat Against France, Claims Paris

EU To Respond Strongly Against US Tariff Threat Against France, Claims Paris
While saying that the threat by the United States’ Trump administration to impose up to 100 per cent import tariffs on French goods exported to the US worth ‎€2.17 billion was "unacceptable", the French Finance minister Bruno Le Maire said on Monday that if the US actually implemented the threat, the tariffs would see a strong response from the European Union.
The French items likely to be targeted if the US did go ahead to implement the tariff threats include Champagne, handbags and cheese among other products, the US government also announced on Monday. Officials of the Trump administration said that this threat was issued as retaliation to the new digital services tax that was imposed earlier by France which US claims would harm the US tech companies and was intentionally direct at companies such as Google and Facebook.
"I am not going to let France take advantage of American companies," Trump said on Tuesday as was on his way to a meeting of the NATO leaders.
What prompted the US announcement was still unclear, said Éric-André Martin, a research fellow at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), in an interview with the Euronews. France may have tried to "force the hands of its partners" to push its digital tax forward was one of the possibilities, he said. 
A compromise formula between the US and France was worked out in August at a G7 summit in France by Le Maire and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin under which France would reimburse the US companies paying the new digital tax the difference amount between the tax plaid now and the tax that would be applicable after the implementation of new mechanism for digital companies that is being prepared by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
However the compromise was never accepted by Trump and he did not even say that whether the proposed tariffs on French products had been discarded completely.
"France put itself in a difficult situation," and as a result, "the tariff problem is becoming bilateral while it should be multilateral," Martin said. "It is French farmers who will bear the weight of the sanctions," he added.
These comments by Le Maire were a tactic of forcing the EU into the issue according to Martin. However he added that the questions of how and if the EU will choose to respond is still unanswered.
"In case of new American sanctions, the European Union would be ready to retaliate," Le Maire told Radio Classique.
He also stated that even though there have been repeated threats by the Trump administration about imposing import tariffs on European cars imported into the US, that had not been done as yet and Trump had postponed making the decision. "We will see if they also want to enter into conflict with the EU on this point," the expert said, noting there was "a risk of escalation."
Monday’s threat from the US however saw a drop in the shares of French luxury shares on Tuesday.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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