AP interview: France wants Biden to calm trade disputes

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Some 16 million workers on both sides of the Atlantic have jobs supported by EU-US trade, and tariffs over the past four years have hit businesses and people who manufacture and sell a wide range of products.

But some trade tensions preceded Trump, and may not be quick to resolve ?? notably a conflict of several years on subsidies to the aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Airbus, which led to preferential tariffs.

“On the Airbus-Boeing dispute, we would withdraw the tariffs that the World Trade Organization has just allowed us to impose as soon as the United States withdraws theirs,” said Riester, suggesting that it is to the United States to take the first step.

The European Union on Tuesday began imposing tariffs on up to $ 4 billion of U.S. goods in the dispute, including tariffs of 15% on Boeing planes and 25% on dozens of products including spirits, fish, bulldozers, video games, and a gym. equipment. A year ago, the WTO ruled in the same way in favor of the United States, allowing them to impose sanctions on EU products worth up to $ 7.5 billion – including Gouda cheese, single malt whiskey and French wine.

The French minister defended France’s desire to tax web giants like Google and Amazon in the countries where they do business instead of allowing them to use tax havens.

“At a time when we are in a crisis and businesses and individuals face serious difficulties, we need justice – and especially tax justice,” said Riester.

France’s “technology tax” prompted Trump to impose tariffs on French wine and other products in retaliation ?? in addition to other tariffs imposed earlier in his tenure. U.S. officials have argued that the French tax unfairly targets U.S. businesses, although France says it targets all major tech companies that make money online.

Riester urged the United States to resume talks within the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development to secure an internationally agreed tax on digital businesses, which would render French taxation moot.

“It would be a clear signal sent to Europe in the early months of the Biden administration,” he said.

Riester had another request from Biden: to approve the appointment of Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the next WTO Director General.

“We know that today the United States is blocking his nomination, even though there is a broad consensus among all the other states… The WTO is paralyzed. We must restore its strength, ”he declared.

The United States said last month it was instead backing Yoo Myung-hee of South Korea for the post, saying she was the best qualified – and sowing hopes for a necessary consensus among states. WTO members. This means the body could go weeks, if not months, without a new director. It’s unclear who Biden’s administration would support.

Trump has repeatedly accused the WTO of unfair treatment of the United States, launched a trade war with China in defiance of the WTO system, and threatened to remove the United States from the trade body altogether.

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Jamey Keaten in Geneva contributed to this report.

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