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Cheese, Wine, Handbags, Porcelain, and Other French Goods Targeted for Possible New Tariffs

December 4, 2019

On December 2nd, the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) announced proposed tariffs on certain imports from France. Much like current tariffs against China, if they are approved, the tariffs against French products will be applied under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.

USTR proposed tariffs of up to 100 percent on certain imports, the value of which totals $2.4 billion. Included in the list of products are a variety of French cheeses, wine, makeup, handbags, and porcelain items under chapters 4, 33, 34, 42, 69, and 73 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States. USTR is additionally seeking input on whether to impose fees or restrictions on French services.

USTR is requesting comments on whether products should be added to or deleted from its list and what, if any, increased tariff rate should be applied for each product. The due date for written comments is January 6, 2020. The Section 301 Committee will convene a public hearing at the U.S. International Trade Commission on January 7, 2020. Interested parties have until December 30, 2019 to request to appear at the public hearing and to file a summary of testimony.

USTR’s announcement comes in response to its determination that the French Digital Services Tax (“DST”) is unreasonable or discriminatory and burdens or restricts U.S. commerce. Specifically, USTR has determined that the French DST is “inconsistent with prevailing tax principles on account of its retroactivity, its application to revenue rather than income, its extraterritorial application, and its purpose of penalizing particular U.S. technology companies.” U.S. companies such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google were named as being discriminated against as a result of the French DST.

If you have any questions regarding the content of this alert, please contact Mark Ludwikowski (

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