A row over taxing tech giants is set to dominate a meeting of G7 finance ministers near Paris this week, with the world’s leading industrialised nations already riven by disruptive US trade policies.
During the meetings Wednesday and Thursday in Chantilly, ministers are set to discuss making taxation fairer as part of wider plans by G7 leaders to address rising inequality when they gather next month in the southern French city of Biarritz. An international effort to update rules so as to rein in multinationals gaming the system by paying in low-tax rate countries has been plodding along.
But France and Britain gave the process a jolt last week when they moved forward with plans to apply sales taxes to digital giants, mostly American companies.
France became the first major economy to impose such a tax when legislators gave their final approval while Britain unveiled legislation.
The French measure does not specifically target US internet giants, but it is commonly called the GAFA tax, an acronym for Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire will meet seperately with his US counterpart Steven Mnuchin, with the tax measure expected to feature prominently in their discussions. Even before the final vote by French lawmakers, the US announced it was opening a so-called Section 301 investigation into the measure.
A Section 301 investigation was used by the Trump administration to justify tariffs on China.
Washington and Beijing have lashed out at each other with punitive tariffs on about $360 billion in goods in a trade dispute that has roiled global financial markets and undermined business confidence.