On December 2, 2019, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced the timeline for a proposal to impose up to 100% tariffs on up to $2.4 billion in French goods. The details for this proposal were published in a Federal Register notice. According to the notice, USTR determined that “France’s Digital Services Tax [DST] is unreasonable or discriminatory and burdens or restricts U.S. commerce.” The French measure, approved this past summer, charges a 3% tax on companies earning more than 25 million euros in France and would affect prominent U.S. tech companies such as Facebook, Apple, and Amazon.
In the wake of the French Government’s first proposal for the DST in March 2019, USTR initiated an investigation this July pursuant to section 302(b)(1)(A) of the Trade Act of 1974, which grants the President authorization to take retaliatory measures to remove unfair foreign trade practices. The proposed retaliatory tariffs cover 63 unique products and include popular consumer items such as French champagne, cheese, and handbags. The French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has called the U.S. tariffs “unacceptable” and assured that “the European Union would be ready to retaliate.”
The USTR will hold public hearings and accept written comments from interested parties. To be assured of consideration, USTR requests that parties adhere to the following schedule:
- December 30, 2019: Due date for submission of a request to appear at the public hearing and a summary of testimony.
- January 6, 2020: Due date for written comments.
- January 7, 2020: The Section 301 Committee will convene a public hearing in the main hearing room of the U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20436 beginning at 9:30 am.
- January 14, 2020: Due date for submission of post-hearing rebuttal comments.