KU News Service

Proposed France tariffs show willingness to act 'aggressively, unilaterally' against friend or foe, law expert says

Tue, 12/03/2019

LAWRENCE — The United States is threatening 100% tariffs on French merchandise worth about $2.4 billion, President Donald Trump announced, in response to a dispute over how France taxes large tech companies. The tax, which would affect revenues of companies like Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, is disputed by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and the corresponding tariffs would target items like French wine, cheeses, handbags and makeup.

Raj Bhala, Brenneisen Distinguished Professor at the University of Kansas School of Law and an international trade law expert, is available to discuss the situation with media. He can talk about France’s proposed Digital Services Tax, proposed American tariffs, the European Union’s promised retaliatory efforts, the larger trade war, international trade, what the moves would mean for the American economy and related topics.

“We’re using the same trade statute, Section 301, that we used in the Chinese trade dispute,” Bhala said. “This case shows the expansive use of 301 by this administration and its willingness to use it aggressively and unilaterally against any country, friend or foe, to defend what it views as America’s interest.”

Bhala can also discuss potential similar digital taxes by Austria, Italy and Turkey, as well as American tariffs announced this week against steel and aluminum imported from Argentina and Brazil.

Bhala has a global reputation in the scholarship of international trade law. He lectures around the world and is the author of dozens of books and journal articles, including the acclaimed four-volume International Trade Law: A Comprehensive Textbook, now in its fifth edition; the two-volume treatise “Modern GATT Law” and “TPP Objectively: Legal, Economic, and National Security Dimensions of CPTPP” second edition. He practiced international banking law at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York before entering academia and currently serves as senior adviser to Dentons in Kansas City. Bhala has worked in more than 25 countries, including China and throughout the European Union as well as Argentina, Turkey, Australia, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore and throughout India.

To schedule an interview, contact Mike Krings at 785-864-8860 or

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