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Franco-US relations

US vote result won't impact trade with Europe: French economy minister

France's economy and finance Minister Bruno Le Maire
France's economy and finance Minister Bruno Le Maire © AFP/Ludovic Marin
2 min

The outcome of the presidential vote will have little impact on US-Europe trade relations, France's economy minister Bruno Le Maire claimed Wednesday, saying Washington is unlikely to drop its confrontational stance whether Donald Trump wins or not.

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 "Let's not kid ourselves: The United States has not been a friendly partner to European states for several years now," Bruno Le Maire told Radio Classique on Wednesday.

"Whether Joe Biden or Donald Trump is elected by Americans tonight or tomorrow, nothing changes this strategic fact," he said. "The American continent has detached itself from the European continent."

European imports

The US administration has inflicted billions of dollars' worth of tariffs on European imports over the past four years, with Trump claiming unfair barriers against American firms trying to compete on continental markets.

His administration has also targeted China, saying it too had caused the American trade deficit to plunge by blocking US goods even while exporting massively to the US.

The resulting trade wars have added a sense of urgency to President Emmanuel Macron's calls for increased European solidarity and sovereignty, not least by bolstering its own industrial and military prowess.

"Fundamentally, the only shift in American thinking is with regards to China, their relations with China and Asia as a whole," Le Maire said.

Digital tax

Le Maire added that he would push ahead for a global digital tax for technology multinationals despite resistance from Washington, which in June pulled out of talks aimed at securing an accord.

Trump's administration says the tax would discriminate against its tech heavyweights including Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple (GAFA) -- widely denounced by French critics for their aggressive yet legal tax-avoidance strategies in Europe.

"Digital giants are now the adversaries of governments," Le Maire said, vowing that they would soon be taxed "at the same rate as French companies."

"We are going to win this fight," he added.

(with wires)

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