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Tuesday, 03 December 2019 07:42

France and EU say primed to retaliate over U.S. tariff threat

Written by Reuters
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PARIS (Reuters) - France and the European Union said on Tuesday they are ready to retaliate if U.S. President Donald Trump acts on a threat to impose duties of up to 100% on imports of champagne, handbags and other French products worth $2.4 billion.

The threat of punitive tariffs came after a U.S. government investigation found France’s new digital services tax would harm U.S. technology companies, and will intensify a festering trade dispute between Europe and the United States.

“They’re starting to tax other people’s products so therefore, we go and tax them,” Trump said in London on Tuesday ahead of a NATO alliance summit.

He had earlier said he would not allow France to take advantage of American companies and that the European Union treated the United States very unfairly on trade.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire branded the latest U.S. tariff threat unacceptable and said the French tax did not discriminate against American companies.

“In case of new American sanctions, the European Union would be ready to retaliate,” Le Maire told Radio Classique.

He later told a news conference: “We are not targeting any country.”

The tariff spat marks a new low in testy relations — from an early bone-crunching handshake to the U.S.

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