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France Slaps Record €1.1 Billion Fine on Apple For Anti-Competitive Practices


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France's competition authority has ruled that the tech giant abused its economic dominance over independent retailers in France and that its actions barred them from competing on price.


France's competition authority has hit US tech juggernaut Apple with a whopping €1.1 bln fine for anti-competitive practices with regard to retail distributors.


The authority added that two Apple's wholesalers, Tech Data and Ingram Micro, were punished with €63 million and €76 million fines respectively for agreeing on prices in violation of the law.


“Apple and its two wholesalers have agreed not to compete with each other and to prevent distributors from competing with each other, thereby sterilising the wholesale market for Apple products,” the watchdog said in a statement.


Tech Giants' Woes in France


The iPhone manufacturer previously paid $28 million to France's consumer authority for failing to inform smartphone users that updating the device could slow it down.


Apple mentioned in its latest annual report that France's anti-monopoly watchdog had signalled that certain aspects of the company's sales and distribution practices went against French competition law. The tech giant denied the allegations.


In 2019, France fined another corporation - Google - for abusing its dominance on the search advertising market. The watchdog ordered the company to clarify its Google Ads rules and account termination procedures.


France's Tax War Against Digital Companies


Last summer, the French parliament introduced a three-percent tax, called "GAFA" by the French media (an acronym that means Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) that targets digital companies with global annual sales of more than €750 million ($849 million) and sales in France of at least €25 million .


The United States launched a probe into the tax, which it describes as "discriminatory or unreasonable" and "burdens or restricts United States commerce." Following the introduction of the tax, President Trump vowed retaliation against France, including tariffs on French wine.


Paris, however, pledged to go on with the tax law despite US calls to abandon it. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire admitted that Paris’ talks with Washington on the taxation of digital companies “remained difficult” even though the two sides vowed to avoid a trade war.



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