Europe biz: US-EU tariff threats, Brussels seeks Malta clarification
Catherine Newman and Juliet Mann

The European Commission seeks clarifications from Bank of Valetta

The European Commission has asked Malta to specify how it intends to address Bank of Valletta's alleged shortcomings surrounding its monitoring of foreign customers who applied to buy Maltese citizenship under its "golden passport" scheme. 

Malta has a population of 420,000 and has aimed to attract foreign capital through such "golden passport" schemes, even though the EU has said that such a scheme could potentially attract criminal activities. The scheme allows people to obtain a Maltese passport on the condition of investing in the country. 

Foreign applicant must invest at least $1.1 million in Malta to qualify for a passport which allows the holder to work and live in most EU countries. 

An ECB report said that buying a passport under the scheme enables foreign nationals to be registered as Maltese citizens, minimizing their risk profile. (Credit: Contract Contributor / Visual China)

An ECB report said that buying a passport under the scheme enables foreign nationals to be registered as Maltese citizens, minimizing their risk profile. (Credit: Contract Contributor / Visual China)

France and EU ready to fight back over US tarrif threats 

France and the European Union are ready to fight back over the latest US tariff threats on French products, said French government ministers. 

The US government said it may impose punitive duties of up to 100 percent on $2.4 billion of imports from France, which includes champagne, handbags, cheese and other products. 

The proposal has been described by French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire as "unacceptable."

France's 3 percent levy applies to revenue from digital services earned by companies with more than $27.86 million in French revenue and $830 million globally.

The most recent ruling by the US government knocked down leading French luxury-goods stocks. 

French luxury handbag maker Hermes saw its shares fall by around 2% on Tuesday morning, while luxury goods companies LVMH and Kering fell 1.5 percent and 1.2 percent. 

Norway cuts Entra stake in $371 million share sale 

The Norwegian government sold a 14.1 percent stake in real estate company Entra for $374 million, the country's industry ministry said. 

After the sale of its shares to around 210 foreign and Norwegian investors, the government's remaining stake is now 8.2 percent. 

Industry Minister, Torbjørn Roe Isaksen of the ruling Conservative Party said "Our goal is to boost private ownership in Norway, and the government has long said we will not be a long-term owner of Entra." defends Just Eat bid

Dutch meal delivery company has defended its $6.1 billion all-share offer for Just Eat. 

The company said Prosus, its rival cash bidder, was trying to buy the British company "on the cheap" despite it offering a higher bid. Just Eat recommended last week its shareholders reject the Prosus offer, saying would help in creating the largest food delivery company firm outside China. said in a statement that Prosus had shown "a lack of understanding of the sector" and was just "trying to buy Just Eat on the cheap." 

Tariffs and Trade Talks

After weeks of plodding along, sentiment seems to have turned on financial markets. In fact it as the worst day on European markets for two months with gains over the last three weeks being wiped out.

Despite solid manufacturing data published, which fleetingly set aside some concerns about the health of the global economy, stock markets in Europe and the U.S tumbled as tariffs and trade talks are back in the headlines.

President Trump re-imposed tariffs on steel and aluminium in Argentina and Brazil. He also threatened imposing tariffs on French goods over their digital tax.

"The transfer pricing of big tech via low tax regimes is a global issue and the French tax likely reflects its frustration with the international lack of progress on that front," said Jeffrey Halley at OANDA. "The French move is not without precedent though. Both Facebook and Google , for example, have agreed to pay taxes locally in Indonesia."

The investor gloom was compounded when US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross told Fox Business that the Trump administration might hike tariffs on China if a trade deal was not reached soon.

"The big questions now is whether the US really means what it says, or whether this will be just another occasion when the US talks tough, only to back away at the last minute," said Michael Hewson at CMC Markets.

Meanwhile in another move which could sour transatlantic international relations, Trump has threatened to increase tariffs related to WTO subsidies for the A380 programme, on Airbus partner countries in Europe. That might make for some awkward conversations on the sidelines of the NATO talks taking place in London.