The Latest: US still mulling retaliation for French tech tax

Bruno Le Maire, Steve Mnuchin

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, left, talks to US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin during a meeting at the G-7 Finance in Chantilly, north of Paris, on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

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CHANTILLY, France (AP) — The Latest on the G-7 finance ministers’ meeting (all times local):

12:50 p.m.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says the White House will press ahead with its investigation of France’s digital tax, which is aimed at companies like Google and Amazon, as a possible unfair trade measure that could lead to retaliation.

Mnuchin made the comment at the Group of Seven finance ministers meeting Thursday in Chantilly, France. He said that work would continue on an internationally backed way to make sure tech companies pay their fair share of taxes: “We’re going to run a two-tracked process.”

France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said that France wasn’t yet ready to back off its 3% tax on digital revenues of large Internet-based firms, but could withdraw the national measure if an international solution is finally decided next year.

U.S. trade officials are looking into the tax as a possible discriminatory measure aimed at U.S. companies.


12:05 p.m.

Top finance officials from the Group of Seven rich democracies are warning that cryptocurrencies like Facebook’s Libra should not come into use before “serious regulatory and systemic concerns” are addressed. 

The chairman’s concluding summary from the G-7 meeting in Chantilly, France, on Thursday says the officials “agreed” that so-called stablecoins – cryptocurrencies pegged to real currencies – will have to meet “the highest standards” of financial regulation to prevent money laundering or threats to the stability of the banking and financial system. 

The statement says ministers including French host Bruno Le Maire and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin agreed that those concerns must be addressed “before such projects can be implemented.”

The summary says that the seven countries also expect the outlines of a global agreement on taxing digital business by next January.

It said the agreement would allow companies to be taxed in countries where they have no physical presence, and provide for an arbitration forum.


11:10 a.m.

Finance ministers from the Group of Seven rich democracies are sounding the alarm on the dangers of cryptocurrencies and pouring cold water on Facebook’s Libra as they wrap up a meeting in Chantilly, France.

Officials from the U.S., France and others have sounded skeptical so far about Libra and cryptocurrencies, which are high on the two-day gathering’s agenda.

Yet the meeting, which will set the stage for a summit of the G-7 heads of state and government in August, is also exposing differences on views on how to tax digital businesses. The U.S. and France in particular are at odds.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has told his French counterpart, Bruno Le Maire, that the U.S. government objects to Paris’ plans to tax tech giants like Facebook and Google.

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