GENEVA - Group of Seven finance ministers and central bankers will hold talks Wednesday outside Paris that are likely to be dominated by global trade disputes and differences over taxing tech companies. Also on the agenda is a French push for fairer levies benefiting poorer countries.
The G-7 finance meeting is being held in the town of Chantilly — home to a historic chateau and France's famous whipped cream. But the talks among representatives from some of the world's richest nations target more weighty issues. Among them: U.S.-China trade war, fears of an economic slowdown and controversial plans by Facebook to launch a virtual currency called Libra. Potentially dominating the agenda is new and controversial French legislation to tax multinational tech giants like Google and Amazon. The UK has drafted a similar proposal.
The Trump administration has launched a probe into the French legislation, which could lead to retaliatory tariffs. Washington claims the bill unfairly targets American companies. France says it will repeal the tax once the nations reach agreement on a global digital tax plan.
French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said threats are not the right way for allies to resolve differences, noting France makes its taxing decisions as a sovereign nation. The Chantilly meeting, he said, can be an opportunity to find common ground.
The finance meeting also will address rising inequality, a priority of France's G-7 presidency this year that covers areas like health, education, jobs and climate change. On the finance side, Paris wants the group to discuss ways to build a fairer international tax system.
Quentin Parrinello, tax justice officer for Oxfam France, says tax evasions by large multinational corporations costs developing countries an estimated $100 billion a year.
"We are at a turning point right now, because the options on the table can be transformative," he said. "France is being very good at big statements, but what Oxfam is expecting from France is turning words into action."
The finance ministers' meeting is the last big G-7 gathering before next month's summit in the southwestern French town of Biarritz.