Democratic congressman says: ‘My concern is that the administration is about to start another trade war’
‘I agree completely with what we did at the OECD. The reality was they all came together and agreed that they’d screw America, and that’s just not something that we’re ever going to be a part of.’
— U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer
Those comments came Wednesday from U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing, as he discussed the latest twist in a long-running fight over taxes on digital services.
President Donald Trump has previously threatened what he called “substantial reciprocal action” for such taxes in France and other countries, suggesting the U.S. could slap tariffs on French wine.
France had accepted a delay for the taxes on tech giants such as Amazon.com Inc.
on the condition that a deal be achieved on the issue within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. But while Lighthizer on Wednesday said there is “clearly room for a negotiated settlement,” the trade representative added that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin recently made the decision to suspend talks. Mnuchin reportedly told his counterparts in other countries that negotiations are at an impasse.
Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas grilled Lighthizer on the issue during the hearing, which focused on the Trump administration’s trade policies and was followed later Wednesday by a similar hearing before the Senate Finance Committee.
“The better solution is an international agreement that determines how digital-service companies are taxed,” Doggett said. “My concern is that the administration is about to start another trade war of the type that we have found damaging in the past.”