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France dismisses US opposition to tax on tech giants

Yves Herman, REUTERS | An activist wears a mask depicting Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg outside EU headquarters in Brussels on December 4, 2018.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Friday that France would stick to plans for a tax on digital giants such as Facebook and Apple, despite opposition from Washington.

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"We are determined to implement a tax on the largest digital companies to bring more justice and efficiency to the international tax system," Le Maire told reporters as he arrived in Bucharest, Romania, for talks with his euro-zone counterparts.

His comments came just hours after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo raised objections to the planned levy during a meeting in Washington with France’s foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian.

"Secretary Pompeo urged France not to approve a digital services tax, which would negatively impact large US technology firms and the French citizens who use them," the State Department said in a statement.

Public fury at tech firms

France last month unveiled draft legislation to set a three percent tax on digital advertising, the sale of personal data and other revenue from any technology company that earns more than 750 million euros ($841 million) worldwide each year.

The effort comes amid rising public outrage at the minimal tax paid by some of the world's richest firms which base operations in jurisdictions that charge low rates.

France has led the effort after a European Union-wide effort was scuttled by low-tax countries such as Ireland, which have wooed big technology firms.

Other countries are considering following France's lead including Britain, Spain, Austria and Italy.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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