the Paris disagreement breaks with European trade strategy towards the United States

Donald Trump and Bernard Arnault, in New York, in January 2017.

Analysis. Is Jean-Yves Le Drian doing Trump? We fell from the clouds among those responsible for the transatlantic negotiations, when we learned of the existence of the letter from the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs asking for a postponement of the takeover of Tiffany by LVMH. A political intervention in a 100% private affair, supposed to help avoid customs duties in response to the so-called “GAFA” tax (acronym for Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple) decided by Emmanuel Macron.

To understand the context: LVMH renounces the takeover of Tiffany

This missive, unless it is of convenience, is the opposite of the strategy pursued by the French and Europeans for four years to prevent the transatlantic trade dispute from escalating: to demine discreetly, tirelessly, without responding to provocations from Donald Trump, or even offering him some electoral gift, such as the decision this summer to no longer tax Maine lobster.

The French put themselves in a syringe with the GAFA tax, decided alone and which led to a response from the Trump administration, after the failure, in June, of negotiations within the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). They have a rough, but accommodating partner in the person of Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. The latter admittedly announced, in the wake, $ 1.3 billion (1.1 billion euros) in retaliatory customs duties on cosmetics and handbags.

But the taxation does not concern champagnes and cheeses and will not come into force until January 6, 2021, right between the election of the new president, on November 3, and his inauguration on January 20. An interregnum which allows a certain flexibility. The Germans have also avoided customs duties on European cars for four years by investing in the United States.

Europeans prepare after the election

The hottest issue is that of Airbus-Boeing. The European aircraft manufacturer was condemned by the World Trade Organization (WTO) for public subsidies, which allowed Washington to impose sanctions. But Boeing’s turn will come in the coming months, allowing Europeans to retaliate. The latter would like to reach an agreement, this eternal war benefiting… the Chinese. They made overtures, Airbus claiming to have complied with WTO requirements, but the Trump administration clearly does not want to move forward. With its Boeing 737 MAX on the ground since mid-March 2019, after two disasters that killed 346 passengers and crew members, the American group is even worse off than Airbus. Difficult to make concessions in this state of weakness.

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