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JUSTICE

France set to extradite ex Panama dictator

France is set to launch extradition proceedings to send ex-dictator Manuel Noriega to face justice in his native Panama, the French foreign ministry said Monday.

A Paris court jailed Noriega, 77, last July after he was extradited from the United States.

Panama said Sunday that the United States had given its approval for him to be extradited again back to Panama. Washington’s consent was required under existing treaties since he has not yet served his full term.

“The consent of the United States opens the administrative phase of the procedure to extradite Manuel Noriega,” foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero told a news conference on Monday.

“The government is preparing to make an extradition decree” to be served on Noriega, who will then have a month to appeal it in the French courts, he added.

Following his conviction last year Noriega is serving a seven-year jail term for laundering drug money through French banks in the 1980s. He had served 20 years in a US jail in Miami before being extradited to France.

He has three convictions for human rights violations in Panama, dating to his military rule there from 1983 to 1989. Each conviction carries a 20-year prison sentence.

If he does not appeal against extradition, “the Panamanian authorities will then be notified of the decree and will have to quickly arrange to take custody of the former dictator”, Valero said.

US

Trump orders investigation into France’s planned tax on tech giants

US President Donald Trump has ordered an investigation into France's planned tax on internet services that will hit American tech giants especially hard, officials said Wednesday.

Trump orders investigation into France's planned tax on tech giants
Photo: AFP
The investigation into unfair trade practices could pave the way for Washington to impose punitive tariffs, something Trump has done repeatedly since taking office.
   
“The United States is very concerned that the digital services tax which is expected to pass the French Senate tomorrow unfairly targets American companies,” US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement.
   
The proposed three percent tax on total annual revenues of companies providing services to French consumers only applies to the largest tech companies, “where US firms are global leaders,” the trade representative's office said.
 
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France to introduce tax on big US tech firms in JanuaryPhoto: AFP

The so-called Section 301 investigation is the primary tool the Trump administration has used in the trade war with China to justify tariffs against what the United States says are unfair trade practices.   

USTR will hold hearings to allow for public comment on the issue over several weeks before issuing a final report with a recommendation on what actions to take.
   
Despite the objections to the French tax proposal however, the statement said the United States will continue to work with other advanced economies to address the conundrum of how to tax tech companies.
   
The Group of 20 has tasked the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development with finding a fix in the international tax system that has allowed some internet heavyweights to take advantage of low-tax jurisdictions in places like Ireland and pay next to nothing in other countries where they make huge profits.
   
The Computer & Communications Industry Association on Wednesday applauded the US Trade Representative's move, saying the tax would retroactively require US internet giants operating in France to turn over a percentage of their revenues from the beginning of this year and violates international trade commitments.
   
“This is a critical step toward preventing protectionist taxes on global trade,” CCIA official Matt Schruers said in a statement.
   
“CCIA encourages France to lead the effort toward more ambitious global tax reform, instead of the discriminatory national tax measures that harm global trade.”
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