French Stamp Tax
|Products at issue
|Type of product
Key legal aspects
|No of Pages (total / legal reasoning)
|Request for consultations
|Outcome of the proceedings
Consultations held, request withdrawn
|SR.9/28 (10/01/1955) Contracting Parties Ninth Session - Summary Record of the Twenty-Eighth Meeting (07/01/1955) France. "the levy of a customs stamp tax was mentioned in the consolidated Schedule XI A (France) appended to the General Agreement (…) [and] covered by the provisions of Article II:2(c) (...) It recognized also that a significant increase of the tax could have damaging effects and would be contrary to the provisions of Article II if the revenue from the tax cased to relate to the cost of services rendered." US: "After the statement and explanation of the intentions and attitude of the French Government, and since there was no substantial injury to United States exports, his delegation was prepared to withdraw the complaint from the Agenda."
As a follow-up to this dispute, in September 1955, the United States submitted a communication (L/410, document date: 26 September 1955) complaining about the fact that "[i]n August 1955 the French Government increased the stamp tax on Imports from 2 per cent to 3 per cent, with the specific provision that the proceeds of the increase are to be applied to the budget for Agricultural Family Allowances," and requesting "that this item be included in the Tenth Session Agenda". The same communication pointed out that "[t]he United States Government has made these views known to the French Government, but has not been able to resolve the problem", and added that "It should be noted that this increase of the stamp tax by the French Government is in addition to the increase which was considered at the Ninth Session at the request of the United States (L/245 and & SR.9/28)." At their Tenth Session, the CONTRACTING PARTIES then discussed this matter as follows (see document SR.10/5, document date: 7 November 1955, meeting date: 1 November 1955). The representative of France pointed out that "[t]his increase was decided upon in exceptional circumstances when it had been necessary to find a means of financing the budget for agricultural family allowances and no possibility was seen in the normal methods. The increase was thus provisional and exceptional." The representative of France added that "although a contravention of the Agreement was involved, the scope was relatively restricted." The representative of the United States said that "the statement of the French representative confirmed their impressions as to the status of the tax under the Agreement. He would ask that the inconsistency of this measure with the Agreement be recorded and that the CONTRACTING PARTIES note the statement of the French intention to remove the inconsistency. He assumed that they would also request the French Government to report on progress." In conclusion, "[t]he CONTRACTING PARTIES took note of the undertaking of the French Government to cancel the measure as soon as practicable and invited the French Government to submit a report before the next Session regarding action taken to remove the measure which was inconsistent with the obligation of the French Government under the General Agreement."