French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire stressed on Thursday that there is no draft trade agreement between the European Union and the United States, and that France has set as a criterion not to accept the signing with a country that has not committed to the Paris Agreements on climate change.
Le Maire, who was responding to warnings in Davos from Donald Trump, who threatened the EU with tariff sanctions if there is no trade agreement quickly, said that “for now there is no concrete project on the table”.
He also recalled that French President Emmanuel Macron “has set a framework” that excludes any commitment to a country that does not join the Paris Agreements. A direct allusion to the departure of the United States with the arrival of Trump as President of this international pact that aims to limit global warming.
The finance minister also recalled that France defends its “concept of agriculture” in any trade negotiations.
After their meeting on Tuesday in Davos, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said she was confident of reaching an agreement with the United States “in a few weeks” that both parties could sign.
In spring 2019 Brussels had obtained a mandate from EU countries to open trade negotiations with the US, but limited to industrial products.
The talks, however, were not opened in practice, among other things because Washington refuses to allow agricultural products to be excluded.
Le Maire took the heat off Trump’s threats of sanctions on the digital giants that have been or will be implemented in different European countries and explained that “a trade war is in nobody’s interest”, neither the United States nor Europe.
On that point, he said that France has given itself “a few months” to allow negotiations to take place within the OECD to close an international commitment on a package that includes minimum taxation of companies and taxes on digital companies that prevent the relocation of their profits to jurisdictions where they barely pay taxes.
“We are going to give international negotiations a chance,” and it will be until the end of the year before France will make the internet giants pay their national tax, which has been in force since 2019, he explained.
But he added: “We will not give in to this refoundation of international taxation,” and noted that the French tax will not be suspended: “We can’t afford for (digital) companies to relocate their profits.