Briefing

France and U.S. compromise on digital-services tax

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Presidents Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump agreed to not to impose new tariffs until the end of 2020 and to continue participating in an OECD process to change the way multinational corporations are taxed. The measures would allow countries to tax such firms if they do business there, rather than based on the location of corporate headquarters. Representatives of the two countries were due to discuss the matter in Davos this week. (Reuters)

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Talking point: Both governments—and Canada—are represented in the steering group for the OECD process, which is due to deliver a final report by the end of the year. France had sought U.S. buy-in as part of the negotiations, with Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire arguing the Trump administration’s support was needed to avoid the spread of country-specific measures. But the U.S. treated France’s digital-services tax as a bilateral trade issue, threatening retaliatory tariffs on French imports. The U.S. corporate giants against which the White House claims Le Maire’s measure discriminates have been lining up on both sides of the OECD changes. While Spotify and Uber have objected, on Monday, Apple CEO Tim Cook backed the overhaul at an event in Ireland, where the European Commission has determined that the company has been undertaxed.