The US said it was “very concerned” by the planned digital service tax, a move which could see the States retaliate by imposing new tariffs or other trade restrictions.
In a statement announcing the investigation, US trade representative Robert Lighthizer said there were concerns the tax “unfairly targets American companies”.
The proposed 3% tax on French revenue of large internet companies is expected to pass the French Senate and could yield €500m (£450m) a year.
It would target companies with at least €750m (£675m) in annual revenues and apply to revenue from digital business, such as online advertising.
Companies including Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook would likely be affected.
The United States Trade Representative (USTR) said in a statement “services covered are ones where US firms are global leaders.
“The structure of the proposed new tax as well as statements by officials suggest that France is unfairly targeting the tax at certain US-based technology companies.”
Mr Lighthizer said the US president had directed the investigation find out whether the tax is “discriminatory or unreasonable and burdens or restricts United States commerce”.
Previous investigations by the US have included Chinese trade practices and EU subsidies on large commercial aircraft.
The tax would hit some 30 companies, many of which are American, but also Chinese, German, Spanish and British companies.
One French firm and several firms with French origins that have been taken over by foreign companies will also be included in the tax plans.
Technology industry lobby group ITI has urged the US not to impose tariffs in retaliation.
“We support the US government’s efforts to investigate these complex trade issues but urge it to pursue the 301 investigation in a spirit of international cooperation and without using tariffs as a remedy,” Jennifer McCloskey, ITI’s vice president of policy, said.
But the investigation was praised by Senate finance committee chairman Chuck Grassley and Democrat Senator Ron Wyden.
In a joint statement, they said: “The digital services tax that France and other European countries are pursuing is clearly protectionist and unfairly targets American companies in a way that will cost US jobs and harm American workers.
“The United States would not need to pursue this path if other countries would abandon these unilateral actions and focus their energies on the multilateral process that is under way.”
New Zealand speaker feeds colleague’s baby during debate | World News
Trevor Mallard tweeted a photo of himself feeding MP Tamati Coffey’s newborn son while in the speaker’s seat on Wednesday.
He captioned the picture: “Normally the Speaker’s chair is only used by Presiding Officers but today a VIP took the chair with me. Congratulations @tamaticoffey and Tim on the newest member of your family.”
The images have since been shared and liked hundreds of times, with many commending Mr Mallard for taking on the babysitting duties.
One Twitter user said: “New Zealand….you might be a small country, but you have a huge lesson to teach the world! Great photo!”
While another said: “This is something wonderful that is just a pleasure to see happening in our parliament.”
Mr Coffey’s son was born via a surrogate to him and his partner Tim Smith in July.
Other MPs also hailed Mr Coffey for bringing the baby into the parliament chamber and shared an image of him holding his son.
Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman tweeted: “Who needs to see this today? Every single last one of us, that’s who. Here’s a brand new papa holding his new born in our House of Representatives right now.”
“Lovely to have a baby in the House, and what a beautiful one,” said fellow Green Party MP Gareth Hughes.
Last year, New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern made history by becoming the first female world leader to bring her baby to the United Nations general assembly.
And in the UK, leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson cradled her baby on parliament’s green benches in January, in what was thought to be a first during a Commons debate.
However not all countries have the same outlook about allowing babies in parliament.
Kenyan politicians walked out in protest earlier this month over a decision to eject their colleague who was holding her five-month old baby during a session of the legislature.
Zuelekha Hassan Juma was ejected from the floor of the National Assembly with the child.
Christopher Omulele, temporary speaker of the National Assembly, said: “As much as she might want to take care of her child, this is not the place for it.”
Vladimir Putin warns US over missile test: ‘We will react accordingly’ | World News
The missile test on Sunday would have been banned under a now-defunct arms treaty.
The Pentagon confirmed it tested a modified ground-launched version of a Navy Tomahawk cruise missile, which hit its target more than 310 miles (499km) away.
It follows the pull-out of both Washington and Moscow from the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which prohibited the use of such weapons.
The Russian president spoke after talks with Finnish leader Sauli Niinisto on Wednesday.
Mr Putin argued that the quick test indicated that America had begun working on the missile long before declaring its intention to abandon the pact.
The Russian leader said the test signalled “the emergence of new threats, to which we will react accordingly”.
“The Americans have tested this missile too quickly after having withdrawn from the treaty,” Mr Putin said.
“That gives us strong reason to believe that they had started work to adapt the sea-launched missile long before they began looking for excuses to opt out of the treaty.”
The US said it withdrew from the treaty following Russian violations, which Moscow denies.
Mr Putin said his country would work to create similar missiles but reaffirmed that it would not deploy missiles previously banned by the treaty to any area before the US does.
Italian PM To Resign Amidst Crisis
Fourteen Months after the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the League Party of anti-migrant politician, Mateo Salvini, formed a coalition to govern Italy, Giuseppe Conte, an independent chosen to serve as Prime Minister by the political partners, told the Italian Senate Tuesday that he will resign his office as head of government.
Conte said Salvini was irresponsible, the BBC reports.
Conte, whose popularity had been trumped by Salvini’s policy towards migrants crossing the Mediterranean, accused him of ‘creating a new political crisis for Italy for personal and party interests.’
Salvini had earlier tabled a vote of no confidence on Conte’s time as Prime Minister.
“I take this opportunity to announce that I will present my resignation as head of government to the president of the republic,” Conte informed the Senate.
The outgoing prime minister said Salvini’s actions were driven by the success of his party at the European parliament elections.
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