France welcomes US pivot at Big Tech and sees potential for a deal this spring

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LONDON – French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire on Monday hailed President Joe Biden’s government support for a proposed global tax on tech giants, saying a multilateral deal could come into effect as early as this spring.

It comes shortly after Biden’s candidate for Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen expressed her support for demanding that technology companies pay more of their revenues in the countries in which they operate.

Former President Donald Trump had spoken out strongly against the proposed tax regulations and said they had discriminated against American companies.

At the Davos Agenda Summit, Le Maire said via video conference: “I think it is very good news that the new Finance Minister Janet Yellen has just declared that she is open about the idea of ​​a new international taxation with the two pillars to think about: First and foremost, digital taxation and of course a minimum corporate income tax. “

“I think we are on the right track. There is a possibility of reaching an agreement on this new international tax system by the end of this spring 2021. And I can tell you that we will do our best to pave the way for one to pave new things. ” Agreement, “Le Maire told CNBC’s Geoff Cutmore.

Yellen had supported the call for a new global levy on tax giants during a Senate confirmation hearing last week.

“It would allow us to collect a fair share of companies while maintaining the competitiveness of our companies and reducing the incentives American companies now have to operate offshore,” said Yellen, wire service Agence France-Presse reported on Aug. January.

French Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire speaks during a press conference in Paris on January 14, 2021.

THOMAS COEX | AFP | Getty Images

International taxation

Le Maire added: “The winners of the economic crisis are the digital giants. How can you explain some sectors that have been badly hit by the crisis and are paying (their) reasonable taxes that the digital giants do not have to pay?” pay the same amount of taxes? “

“It’s unfair,” and inefficient, he said.

When asked if it was advisable for France to levy corporate taxes in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, Le Maire replied: We must “do our best to maintain the same level of investment, otherwise we are clearly running the risk of the open countries.” go out. ” the technological race of the 21st century. And we have to think about the kind of economy we want to build. “

“We want to build a sustainable economy. We want to reduce inequalities between nations. And we also want to reduce inequalities in the international tax system.”

The World Economic Forum is taking place online this year due to the coronavirus crisis. A physical gathering of business leaders, political thinkers and global heads of state is due to take place in Singapore in May.