France sees smoother trade ties with U.S. if Biden triumphs, says minister

FILE PHOTO: French Culture Minister Franck Riester speaks at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France May 6, 2020 following a video conference between the French president and several artists’ representatives as the country is under a strict lockdown to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS

PARIS (Reuters) – France expects smoother trade relations with the United States should Democratic contender Joe Biden win the presidential vote, with greater alignment on sustainable development and more multilateral cooperation, trade minister Franck Riester said.

President Donald Trump has imposed tariffs on French wines in a row over Airbus subsidies, threatened levies on Champagne and luxury handbags in a digital tax dispute, and pursued an isolationist “America First” stance.

Asked if France anticipated that a Biden presidency would be more reconciling, Riester told Reuters: “We would surely see an improvement in relations. We would be more aligned on matters of sustainable development and perhaps also on multilateral work.”

Biden took a razor-thin lead over President Donald Trump in the battleground state of Georgia early on Friday, edging closer to winning the White House.

Biden’s camp has said during the campaign that he would end the “artificial trade war” that Trump had waged against Europe, while addressing imbalances in agricultural trade with the bloc.

France has imposed a new 3% tax on revenues of big tech companies, but agreed to suspend payments this year while international talks are held over how to tax giants such as Google GOOGL.O and Facebook FB.O. In return, Trump agreed to hold off on a tariff war until the end of 2020.

Riester said it was too early to know if the tariffs threatened on Champagne, French cheese and handbags in retaliation for the new digital tax would be imposed. He said France was committed to OECD-led negotiations on a rewrite of cross-border tax rules.

Meanwhile, EU countries were finalising a list of products the bloc would target with tariffs in a dispute over subsidies between planemakers Airbus and Boeing. Riester said aerospace, agri-food and manufacturing were the sectors most likely to be hit.

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