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French groups plan to protest ‘unsustainable’ Amazon on Black Friday

Two French environmental NGOs and a union group on Sunday slammed the environmental impact of Amazon, vowing to disrupt its "Black Friday" sale campaign later this week.

French groups plan to protest 'unsustainable' Amazon on Black Friday
An image distributed by the groups parodying Amazon's website. Photo: Friends of the Earth France
The NGOs Attac and les Amis de la Terre, as well as the Solidaires association of unions, said in a report that the “world according to Amazon is not sustainable”.
   
But Amazon said in a statement to AFP that it rejected the “erroneous” information put forward by the groups, saying their report contained numerous factual errors and speculation lacking foundation.
   
The three groups pledged to turn the upcoming Black Friday on November 29 into a “Black Day for Amazon” by staging dozens of demonstrations across France to protest the policies of the company.
   
There were no details on the nature of the demos but Attac has in the past staged unannounced protests outside Amazon facilities. Their statement accused Amazon of increasing greenhouse gas emissions through rapid delivery services, of destroying unsold products and showing a lack of transparency in its carbon budget.
 
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Putting together information from all the three groups, it accused Amazon of being responsible for 55.8 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of all the emissions of Portugal.
   
Meanwhile, the report claimed that Amazon's practices involved “considerable waste”, with some three million new products destroyed by Amazon in France alone in 2018.
   
It also charged that Amazon worldwide hired people on insecure, short term contracts, meaning that “for every job created by Amazon, two are destroyed”.
   
The groups also accused Amazon — which has its European headquarters in Luxembourg, of tax avoidance, an issue which has already seen the company in the crosshairs of the French authorities.
   
The report alleged Amazon hid 57 percent of its sales in France, a charge denied by the company.
   
The French parliament earlier this year defied US anger to pass a law taxing companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook or Apple for revenues accrued in the country, even if they are not based there.

Member comments

  1. Perish the thought that companies can make in france like they do in other countries around the world. Why does France have this strange attitude to retailers making money and goes out of it’s way to hinder them at every turn? If they think they are protecting the small businesses they are mistaken or deluded. If a retailer can’t survive without Government interference, it has no right to keep trading.

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BUSINESS

Google flags higher ad rates in France and Spain after digital tax

Google has told customers that it will raise the rates for advertisements on its French and Spanish platforms by two percent from May to help offset the impact of a digital tax on profits.

Google flags higher ad rates in France and Spain after digital tax

France has collected the levy since 2019, and Spain since this year, under
pressure from voters to make US tech giants pay a greater share of taxes in
countries where they operate.

The ad rate increase is to “cover a part of the cost of conforming to laws
concerning taxes on digital services in France and Spain,” the internet giant
said in an e-mail seen by AFP.

In France, internet companies with more than 750 million euros ($895
million) in worldwide sales, and 25 million in France, must pay a three
percent tax on their French operations, notably advertising sales and
marketplace operations.

Spain also charges a three-percent tax on some of their businesses.

Jean-Luc Chetrit, head of the Union des Marques, an alliance of major
brands, said Google’s decision would “amputate the investment capacity of
brands at a time when all companies are going through an unprecedented crisis.”

Google did not respond to AFP’s requests for comment, but Karan Bhatia, its head of government affairs, warned in February that “Taxes on digital services complicate efforts to reach a balanced agreement that works for all countries.”

“We urge these governments to reconsider what are essentially tariffs, or
at least suspend them while negotiations continue,” he said.

Google as well as Apple, Facebook and Amazon – grouped together as “GAFA” – are in the crosshairs of European governments that accuse them of exploiting common market rules to declare all profits in the bloc in low-tax
jurisdictions such as Ireland or Luxembourg.

Critics say they are depriving national tax authorities of millions of euros even as they profit from a surge in online activities because of home-working and social distancing rules during the Covid-19 crisis.

The companies counter that they are being unfairly targeted by discriminatory levies.

Google logo
Google logo. Photo: Eva HAMBACH / AFP

Global deal?

Amazon had already responded to the French tax last October by raising the rates it charges France-based marketplace sellers by three percent.

Apple followed suit by raising the commission it charges developers who
sell apps on its platform not only in France, but also in Italy and Britain.

The French tax move on global digital companies made it a pioneer in the
struggle to find a fair fiscal system for internet multinationals whose tax
bill is often tiny compared to their income.

Contacted by AFP, Facebook said it had no plans to raise prices for ads in
France or Spain for now as it waited for a global accord on fiscal rules.

The French tax brought in 400 million euros to government coffers in 2019,
and the government applied the levy again last year despite pressure from the Trump administration to drop it.

With President Joe Biden in the White House, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) – which is overseeing negotiations on a digital tax – has said it hopes a G20 finance ministers’ meeting in July will hammer out an agreement on the issue.

Last month, the new US Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, said Washington
would no longer insist on a “safe harbour” clause that would effectively make participation in a global tax scheme optional, removing a key sticking point with EU officials.

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