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Franco-German Trade Gap

by afew Wed Jan 31st, 2007 at 10:48:29 AM EST

In Do capital goods account for the huge German export lead over France?, bruno-ken pointed out that Germany is currently exporting far more than France. There's an informative and well-argued article on the subject (De quoi souffre l'industrie française? by Guillaume Duval) in this month's Alternatives Economiques. Unfortunately it's not online. I'll try to lay out my understanding of what Duval says, with a few quotes and charts.

There's no disagreement on the facts: while Germany's current account shows a whopping surplus, France's has plunged, since 2001, into the red to the tune of €30 bn (2% GDP) in 2006. Rising costs of energy imports (€45 bn, twice as much as in 2003) don't explain this, (they're not specific to France), nor does trade with Asia, pretty much stable at a €25 bn deficit. Exports of capital goods are however falling - Airbus is responsible for a fair amount of this - while the French automobile industry is stalling exportwise. Value added in French industry rose from €175 bn in 1997 to €207 bn in 2001, only to slide since to €201 bn, with the car industry losing 29% since 2004.


Structural problems

Duval notes these structural problems for French industry:

  • The range of French products and firms on international markets is too narrow:

    Il suffit qu'Airbus tousse au moment où Renault et PSA ont du mal à sortir un nouveau modèle attrayant pour plonger toute l'industrie dans le marasme.

    Airbus only has to sneeze just when Renault and PSA are having problems bringing out an attractive new model, for all French industry to fall into the doldrums.

  • The size of French firms: compared to Germany, France has 50% more industrial enterprises with fewer than 10 employees, and only half as many with more than 50 employees.
  • France is absent from a number of (non-specified) high-growth future market opportunities.
  • French investment in R&D is insufficient.
But these are previously-identified, persistent structural problems. They play their part in the current situation, but don't explain the sudden comparative change in the current account.

So the work-week is too short?

You'd expect the think-tanks and pundits to point their finger at the 35-hour working week introduced by the Jospin government between 1997 and 2001, and they do not fail to do so (if tomorrow's news says it's raining frogs, it'll be blamed on the 35-hour week...). A bosses' union-friendly thonk-tink called COE-Rexecode brought out a report (fr, pdf) placing the responsibility squarely on the 35 hours law. However:

  • the timing of the reform doesn't back this explanation. The 35 hours law was phased in between 1997 and 2001, and French industry did well in those years. The trade deficit set in and accelerated only recently.
  • productivity in French industry remains high.
  • though the work-week in French industry, at 38 hours on average, is among the shortest in Europe, the German industrial week is even shorter at 36.7 hours on average.
  • businesses made important gains in labour flexibility thanks to the 35 hours negotiations (shift re-organisation, increased weekend work). This has led to a rise in the rate of use of capital goods, which is essential to industrial competitivity.

    Grâce aux 35 heures, la durée moyenne d'utilisation des équipements a fait un bond dans l'industrie, passant de 50 heures par semaine en 1996 à 55 heures en 2000, niveau où elle stagne depuis. Autrement dit, on a réussi à fabriquer 10% de produits industriels en plus sans avoir besoin d'investir un euro supplémentaire.

    Thanks to the 35 hours law, the average rate of use of capital goods in industry jumped from 50 hours a week in 1996 to 55 hours in 2000, where it has since remained stagnant. In other words, 10% more industrial goods were made without having to invest a single extra euro.

Must be the strong euro...

Since the end of 2000, the euro has risen:

  • 47% against the USD

  • 41% against the yuan

  • 20% against the won

  • 13% against the GBP

Unit labour costs have undergone a considerable relative shift:


cost of 1 hour's labour in industry, 2000 to 2005 and percentage change, France=100

This undoubtedly plays a part; but two objections can be made. One, the strong euro cheapens imports at the same time as it raises the price of exports; two, Germany manages to export in spite of the strong euro.

Social dumping?

Analysis of Germany's export figures shows that the trade surplus of about €60 bn with countries outside the EU has remained stable over the past 5 years. But, since 2002, an annual surplus of €30 bn within the EU has kicked in. This is particularly true as far as France is concerned - France is running a trade deficit with Germany as high as its deficit with China.

How does this come about? "Reform" in Germany, particularly severe wage moderation, compresses internal demand at the same time as it reduces the relative cost of German products (even within the eurozone) by bringing down unit labour costs.


unit labour costs, France / Germany, 1995=100

French industry, says Duval, faces the strong euro effect outside the eurozone, and, within it, the restrictive "market-competitive" policies of the principal rival and partner, Germany. (Spain, too, appears to be suffering from the same double whammy).

Worrisome?

Well... Duval points out that a high current account surplus like Germany's is not necessarily a sign of excellent economic health.

Ce qui détermine l'équilibre des comptes extérieurs d'une économie, c'est principalement la relation entre l'épargne et l'investissement en son sein; quand l'épargne, c'est-à-dire l'argent que les agents économiques n'ont pas consommé immédiatement, y devient supérieure à l'investissement, cela se traduit par un excédent extérieur, et vice versa.

What determines the balance of an economy's external accounts is principally the internal relationship between savings and investment; when savings, that is the money economic agents have not immediately consumed, become greater than investment, this translates into an external surplus, and vice versa.

Total savings in France, from 1999 to 2006, went down from 21.7% to 18.7% of GDP. Investment, between 1997 and 2006, rose from 17.4% to 20.3% of GDP. This means consumer spending (savings drop), and capital goods acquisition (investment). The result is a current account deficit.

Meanwhile, in Germany, savings rose from 19.5% of GDP in 2001 to 22.1% in 2006. Investment, traditionally strong in Germany, dropped 21.4% of GDP in 2000 to 17.6% in 2006.

See the curves cross over:

Duval says the French deficit is not alarming, while consumer spending and investment testify to a certain amount of confidence in the future. On the other hand, the fall in investment is not an encouraging sign for the German economy.

Bringing the euro down by lowering interest rates would not essentially change the trade balance between eurozone countries. Though he doesn't stress the point, Duval's article underlines the lack of coordination in the economic governance of the eurozone. Particularly as, in this case, it's France and Germany, the two prime movers of the EU and then of the euro, that are not reading from the same page.

To me it looks like the kind of break-up the neo-liberals want: an EU (even the eurozone) that is a free-trade zone made up of independent member states that enter into competition with one another rather than cooperate. The competition game is 1) cut taxes 2) offer cheap, disposable labour. It's sometimes called a race to the bottom. It depends which way you look at it. If I were wealthy, I might be tempted to call it a race to the top.

[For those who read French, I cannot too highly recommend Alternatives Economiques. Abonnez-vous!]

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The double-whammy section recalls the problem that Keynes was trying to solve with his International Clearing Union at Bretton Woods. To wit, he designed a system of global trade among nations that encouraged countries to seek a neutral balance of payments.
The International Clearing Union (ICU) would be a global bank whose job would be to regulate trade between nations. The ICU would make all international trade be done in its own currency called a bancor. The bancor would have a fixed exchange rate with other national currencies, and would be used to measure the balance of trade between nations. Every good exported would add bancors to a countries account, every good imported would subtract them. Each nation would then be given large incentives to keep their bancor balance within a very close percentage to zero. If a nation had too high a bancor surplus the ICU would take a percentage of that surplus and put it into the Clearing Union's Reserve Fund. This taking of surplus bancors would encourage nations with surpluses to buy other nations exports, so they maintain a zero trade sum. Nations that imported more than they exported would have their currency deflated to encourage other nations to buy their products, and make imports more expensive.
Would this have been a workable alternative to the way the European Monetary Union was designed and implemented?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 31st, 2007 at 10:50:53 AM EST
It's an interesting idea, as is usually the case with Keynes, but I'm generally opposed to fixed exchange rates, as least for developed economies.  It sounds like a lot of headache that is not needed.  There is, remember, already an (economic) incentive for countries like China to not peg their currencies and run large current-accounts surpluses.  (I throw the "(economic)" in there because of the fact that many believe China has a political interest in the low yuan.  I'd worry more about the budget deficit than the trade deficit, in America's case, on that, though.)  By doing so, they artificially hold down the purchasing power of their citizens, while propping up that of their trading partners. They also expose themselves to the risk of losing money when (say) the dollar does finally come down to the market level.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 10:26:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
when (say) the dollar does finally come down to the market level.
Isn't the dollar at market level by definition, in this world of freely floating exchange rates?  or do you mean specifically versus the yuan?  and if the latter, and the chinese floated, I think the yuan would become stronger versus all curriencies, not just the dollar, wouldn't it?
by wchurchill on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 07:13:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To me it looks like the kind of break-up the neo-liberals want: an EU (even the eurozone) that is a free-trade zone made up of independent member states that enter into competition with one another rather than cooperate. The competition game is 1) cut taxes 2) offer cheap, disposable labour. It's sometimes called a race to the bottom. It depends which way you look at it. If I were wealthy, I might be tempted to call it a race to the top.
Economic integration requires political integration, because it creates economic tensions that cannon be solved at any level smaller than the whole economy. The European Monetary Union will lead to closed political union, but it seems that things will have to get worse before they can get better. It needn't have been that way, but it was always easier to sell economic integration than political integration.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 31st, 2007 at 10:53:47 AM EST
It's the same problem as the UK opting out of social provisions, though at least they have a seperate currency.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 31st, 2007 at 11:07:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]

The European Monetary Union will lead to closed political union, but it seems that things will have to get worse before they can get better. It needn't have been that way, but it was always easier to sell economic integration than political integration.

That's how the EU (in its previous EEC/EC incarnations) moved forward: get some (easier to agree) economic reforms under way, and then let the resulting political pressure bring us towards political integration.

The problem is that there are now too many euroskepitcal countries (and the leaders of France and Germany themselves are less euro-enthusiastic) to get the second leg working. Or it's just that the euro was such a great economic reform that it has brought no crisis that would really bring about the need for political integration. Compared to the monetary crises and devaluation traumas of the 80s, the current spats on budget deficits are very mild.

... Hmmm, food fo thought.


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 31st, 2007 at 11:21:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I realise something is not quite working as intended.

What I'm arguing is that closer political integration of the Eurozone is a necessity because a common economy requires a common economic policy with explicit (and sizeable) redistribution mechanisms. But some "core Europe" is likely to be established via enhanced cooperation. Given the near doubling of the size of the Union in the last 3 years, I wonder whether that, which used to be anathema, won't also become a necessity.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 31st, 2007 at 11:30:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
cannot and closer, of course.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 31st, 2007 at 11:23:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Great post with a lot of food for thought. It occurs that once you have the same currency and close to fully open trade conditions, does it make an sense to count inter-Euro-area trade in the import/export column of France or Germany?

As a stupid example: I live in Karlsruhe and I make a special jam out of local fruit.

What's the import/export status and the reality-based economic impact if I:

  1. Sell it mail order to someone in New York, USA.

  2. Sell it mail order to someone in Strasbourg. (Just over the border in France.)

  3. Drive over to Strasbourg and hawk it on a market stall?

Obviously, where tax is paid is significant to the government economies of the countries involved. But, is that what we are counting in the trade deficit? Or are we accounting for a change in strength of currencies, two of which (Mark and Franc) no longer exist?

I'd request answers on a postcard... err in a comment (dammit Colman, I need the strikethrough tag for this kind of joke) below.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Wed Jan 31st, 2007 at 10:53:51 AM EST
Does it make sense to count trade within England in the import/export column of individual counties?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 31st, 2007 at 10:56:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can answer one question: use

span style="text-decoration: line-through"

For the rest, obviously Migeru's right that political union matters. We're in a political setting in the '0-somethings which is all about individual member states competing against each other, which will of course produce Shangri-La or Eldorado or something of the sort, (see Market Magic™).

That the economic liberals fight to retain national sovereignty over taxation is symptomatic, since tax harmonisation would at least reduce the importance of the potential objection to economic union you raise (namely, where do you pay tax?)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 31st, 2007 at 11:12:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting question Metatone.  and Migeru's follow-on re: the UK.

I would think the US/individual states/Canada situation forms a nice analogy to think about this, comparing it to the EU/countries/UK situation.  To Migeru's question, it seems to me import and export to the UK do apply, in the same sense that it does between the US and Canada,,,due to the banking and foreign exchange issues resulting from different currencies.

Different states in the US set many different policies, including state and local taxes,,,,and those policies do influence trade between states, and therefore funds collected by state legislatures.  and this can cause issues between states.

However, in the US something like 75% of taxes are collected at the US level, and 25% at the state and local level.  I don't know what the EU versus country percentage would be, but I would guess it's more like 95%/5%--or maybe 100%/0.  A very dramatic difference obviously--and therefore a much larger issue--both from the collection and spending side.  but it would seem within the euro/EU, the issues are fiscal in nature, and not monetary (though there is interplay between the two sets of issues, of course.)

by wchurchill on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 07:46:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The EU's "own resources" are made up out of a marginal % of national VAT taxes (0.5%, with some reductions for the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden IIRC), customs duties (75% of those), and direct national contributions based on GNI. The latter account for the bulk of the money.

The EU's budget will make up around 1.04% of its total GNI under the current framework (2007-2014) and since the national contributions will ultimately have to be financed through taxes of some sort or another, I guess you could say that the EU-Member State distribution is about 2/98 (assuming an average level of taxation of 50%).

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Feb 2nd, 2007 at 05:15:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Workers have been made to work more, for lower wages, and collective agreements have been torn down. Prpductivity is up, as are entreprise profits.

(Note that this wage differential between France and Germany dates back only to the past 2-3 years)

Note that shrinking public service is also associated with subpar growth...

Note also that the phenomenon is linked to the brutal export growth on the past few years - a lot of it, I expect, to China and other emerging countries: Germany being specialised in capital goods (machines, and machine-making machines), thye are benefitting from the industrialisation of these countries.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 31st, 2007 at 11:16:01 AM EST
On the final point, Duval says Germany's surplus with non-EU countries has remained stable (at around €60 bn) over the last 5 years.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 31st, 2007 at 11:31:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But that's in a context of surging Chinese exports AND massively increased energy import bills.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 31st, 2007 at 11:36:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Even Germany has a (growing) trade deficit with China. You can check some numbers here (scroll down to table, Einfuhr = imports, Ausfuhr = exports, Saldo = surplus/deficit). Exports to China did grow, though they stalled in 2005, and imports grew much faster from 2004. Also check this for a breakdown according to regions. Us new EU members ("Beitrittsländer") and Russia allowed export growth for Germany as strong or stronger than China. Note also that beyond from these three and port country Netherlands, import growth was strongest from France.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jan 31st, 2007 at 04:08:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But then... How will the problem of interest rates be solved? Now that the ECB has set higher interest rates due to the strength of the EURO (due in part to Germany's growth).. These interest rates are good for Germany. But what about less developed countries in the euro zone?

-- Fighting my own apathy..
by Naneva (mnaneva at gmail dot com) on Wed Jan 31st, 2007 at 01:13:02 PM EST
The same problem poses itself to the central bank in any country. The answer is that a national employment, industrial and redistribution policy is needed to stimulate investment in those areas of the country which would require a lower interest rate. So, the necessary counterpart to the European Central Bank is an employment, industrial and redistributive policy for the whole Eurozone. Lacking that, you quickly get things like Italian politicians fantasizing about leaving the Euro, or the French presidential candidates trying to one-up each other at bashing the ECB to please their domestic audience.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 31st, 2007 at 02:50:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The EU structural funds can be considered such a policy.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jan 31st, 2007 at 04:13:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Considering they are a fraction of the EU budget, which is 1% of GDP...

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 31st, 2007 at 04:17:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What fraction are they, and what fraction are similar budget appropiations say in Spain?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jan 31st, 2007 at 05:01:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's actually hard to find out just how much money is in the structural funds...
How much money is involved?
The ESF is one of the EU's four Structural Funds. Together, the four Funds are granting almost 195 billion EUR over the seven-year period 2000-2006 to projects across the EU. Through the ESF, the Commission is providing some 70 billion EUR over the 7 years. This is working alongside public and private funding within Member States to tackle the specific problems of each area of the EU.
and
The EU Budget in detail
The annual budget for 2006 amounts to 112 billions (1.01% of the Gross National Income (GNI) of the enlarged EU). The budget enables the EU to fund its activities, the programmes and projects within the various policies through a yearly budgetary procedure. Most of the EU revenue come from a GNI-based resource.
So, the structural funds are 25% of the EU budget.

I don't think Spain has anything as neatly packaged and named as "structural funds", so I don't know where to start looking for the answer to your question. The CIA world factbook has some figures:

GDP (Official exchange rate) $1.081 trillion (2006 est.)
Budget:
  • revenues: $488.2 billion
  • expenditures: $475.3 billion; including capital expenditures of $12.8 billion (2006 est.)
So Spain's government budget was about 45% of Spain's GDP.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 31st, 2007 at 05:20:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Spain does have a couple of bombastically-names concepts: "interterritorial solidarity" (enshrined in the constitution) and "fiscal corresponsibility" (informal). As Autonomous Communities do not have the power to raise their own taxes (with the possible exceptions of Navarra and the Basque Country) this is tied to the "funding of Autonomous Communities". The same debates about which member states are net donors or recipients of EU funds occur between Spanish Autonomous Communities.

This link, for instance, claims that in 1997 133 billion pesetas (€800M at the 1999 exchange rate) were disbursed by the "Interterritorial Compensation Fund". This is not even 1% of Spain's government budget today.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 04:35:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Under the 'interinstitutional agreement' (pdf) on the financial framework for 2007-2013, the structural funds will make up 308 billion euros out of a total budget of 864 billion euros, which is 35-36% of the budget.

Although the structural funds are the only funds that have redistribution as their main objective, some other EU funds also have a redistributive effect through their spending. Still, because the EU's budget is so small the measure of redistribution it achieves is around 4 times less than that of the US' federal budget. (I'll have the details on that later). Given that the US federal budget is 17-18 times as big, this is no mean feat, but I don't know if it's enough to keep a monetary union together.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Feb 2nd, 2007 at 05:39:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In fact, the euro is a massive "subsidy" by Germany (and, to a lesser extent, France) to the periphery countries which used to have much higher interest rates, and now have pretty much the same ones.

It does not cost Germany anything, as this is a windfall given by the markets, but said markets do expect that Germany will discipline Italy and others into putting their house in order. Thus that implicit German "promise" is worh tens of billions each year to Italy, Spain and others.

It's not a transfer, but it's real wealth for these countries.

(And it puts in perspective the budget deficit disputes whereby Germany and France have been said to weaken the Maastricht criteria: these criteria were meant to make Italy et al. as solid as Germany. It will take more than a couple of years of subpar budgetary performance by Germany  to make Germany less solid than Germany, even the idealised one of the traders. France is now put in the same boat as Germany, because it established its own credentials in the 80s and 90s under the Socialist governments. Beregovoy (the PM in 1992-92, and all)-powerful Economics & Finance Minister before that, who took his life in 1993 after ugly slanders) has done more for the credibility of the euro than any other of our leaders, by sticking to unpopular strict policies then.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 31st, 2007 at 04:26:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you very much, afew.  This is a huge help for me.

By the way, very cool that Alternatives économiques is a SCOP. (Or is  that the norm in France for this sort of journal?)

I encourage you to go shopping more. -- George W. Bush

by marco on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 05:22:45 AM EST
SCOP - no, I believe it's exceptional. At least, I haven't heard of another one.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 10:47:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At some point, someone will have to explain the mechanics of the Monetary Union to me.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 10:18:56 AM EST
Over and above the single currency and the single central bank?

What do you mean by "mechanics"?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 10:22:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By "mechanics," I mean the mechanics of how a country changes from its original currency to the euro.  I assumed the EMU was a clearing union, not completely unlike what Keynes discussed.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 10:28:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, the central bank merges into the ECB, the existing currency is exchanged for Euros at a set rate, and the country gets to print its own Euros in consultation with the ECB. I in fact mentioned Keynes' discussion upthread as an alternative to the way the EMU is configured.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 10:30:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, gotcha.  Thanks.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 10:39:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But you could read the cluster of wikipedia articles around Economic and Monetary Union (including European System of Central Banks) and compare it to what you know about the Federal Reserve, in a diary.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 10:47:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it's central banking for the EU, therefore very much like the Fed Reserve.  But think of all fiscal issues as being at the "state" level, in US terms.  The attempt to harmonize is done through the 3% guideline on the budget deficit.  To me it seems like taking the occassional issues neighboring US states have between different alcohol, sales, cigarette taxes, corporate state taxes,,,,,and multiplying those issues by a factor of some big number like 1000.
by wchurchill on Thu Feb 1st, 2007 at 07:54:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One thing is that there's a EU policy that VAT rates should converge. Each time a EU country wants to change its VAT for some sector, the EU has the final word on it.

I've never understood the rationale for this "VAT convergence" policy and why the EU is involved.

Not even someone mentionning an advantage to this scheme, seems pure theocracy EU-style.

AFAIK in the USA states have their own consumer tax and set it at whatever level they want.

by Laurent GUERBY on Sun Feb 4th, 2007 at 04:58:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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