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TRUMP

Trump to snub Macron’s ‘Peace Forum’ on Armistice weekend

US President Donald Trump will not attend a conference organised in Paris this weekend to discuss democracy and multilateralism, organisers said Thursday, in a snub to French President Emmanuel Macron.

Trump to snub Macron's 'Peace Forum' on Armistice weekend
Photo: AFP
Trump is due in the French capital along with around 70 other world leaders for a ceremony on the Champs-Elysees on Sunday to mark the 100th anniversary 
of the end of World War I.
   
Dozens of leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Germany's Angela Merkel, are then expected to attend the opening of the inaugural Paris Peace Forum, which Macron will host.
   
Ending uncertainty about whether the US leader would participate, chief organiser Justin Vaisse confirmed to AFP on Thursday that Trump would not attend.
   
Earlier this week, Vaisse had played down the importance of his presence — while explaining why Trump might not have found the agenda to his liking.
 
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Macron calls for 'real European army' to defend against Russia and USPhoto: AFP

“The aim of the forum is to show that there are lots of forces in the international system — states, NGOs, Foundations, intellectuals, companies — who believe we need a world of rules, an open world and a multilateral world,” he said.
   
“This world needs to meet up and defend itself,” he said. “It doesn't matter if those who don't believe in multilateralism aren't there.”
   
Macron has been an outspoken critic of Trump's “America First” policies and his decisions to pull out of international agreements such as the Paris climate accord, the Iran nuclear deal and most recently a nuclear arms treaty.
   
While the two leaders struck up a warm relationship initially, particularly during Trump's first visit to Paris as president in July 2017, their ties have 
cooled recently amid a growing list of disagreements, diplomats say.
   
Macron has used the WWI commemorations to issue a series of warnings about the rise of nationalism across the world — embodied by Trump — and has 
likened it to “leprosy”.
   
The Paris Peace Forum, which will run until Tuesday, is part of what he sees as a “fightback” against nationalist forces which risk destabilising the international system, Vaisse said. 
   
Macron conceived the forum as an annual gathering for political leaders and civil society groups to discuss democracy — along the same lines as the Davos 
meeting in Switzerland, which is devoted to economics and business.

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TAX

France aims for US digital tax deal by late August, despite Trump opposition

France wants to reach a deal with the US on taxing tech giants by a G7 meeting in late August, Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said Saturday.

France aims for US digital tax deal by late August, despite Trump opposition
French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire. Photo: AFP

He was responding to US President Donald Trump, who on Friday vowed “substantial” retaliation against France for a law passed this month on taxing digital companies even if their headquarters are elsewhere.

The law would affect US-based global giants like Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, among others.

Trump denounced French President Emmanuel Macron's “foolishness”, though they discussed the issue by phone on Friday, according to the White House.

Macron confirmed that he had a “long” conversation with Trump, stressing the pair would “continue to work together in view of the G7”.

“We will discuss international taxation, trade and collective security”, he said Saturday.

His office earlier said Macron had told Trump that the tax on the tech giants was not just in France's interest but was something they both had a stake in.

Neither side revealed if they had also discussed Trump's threat to tax French wines in retaliation.

Le Maire took the same line at a news conference Saturday: “We wish to work closely with our American friends on a universal tax on digital activities.

“We hope between now and the end of August — the G7 heads of state meeting in Biarritz — to reach an agreement.”

Leaders of the Group of Seven highly industrialised countries are to meet in the southwestern French city on August 24-26.

Le Maire emphasised that “there is no desire to specifically target American companies,” since the three-percent tax would be levied on revenues generated from services to French consumers by all of the world's largest tech firms, including Chinese and European ones. 

But Deputy White House spokesman Judd Deere noted earlier that France's digital services tax was already the subject of an investigation at the US Trade Representative's office, potentially opening the door to economic sanctions.

“The Trump administration has consistently stated that it will not sit idly by and tolerate discrimination against US-based firms,” Deere said in a statement. 

The French law aims to plug a taxation gap that has seen some internet heavyweights paying next to nothing in European countries where they make huge profits, because their legal base is in smaller EU states.

France has said it would withdraw the tax if an international agreement was reached, and Paris hopes to include all OECD countries by the end of 2020.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is a Paris-based forum that advises the world's advanced economies.

READ ALSO: 'I like the way they look': Teetotaler Trump prefers US wine to French

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