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Jul 19, 2018

Trump claims EU 'taking advantage' with US$5B Google fine

Trump targets EU on Twitter after antitrust fine against Google

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President Donald Trump lashed out at the European Union’s US$5 billion fine against Google over its mobile phone operating system in the latest trade-related salvo fired from the White House.

"I told you so! The European Union just slapped a Five Billion Dollar fine on one of our great companies, Google. They truly have taken advantage of the U.S., but not for long!" Trump said in a Twitter posting on Wednesday.

Alphabet Inc.’s Google received a record 4.3 billion-euro (US$5 billion) antitrust fine from the EU Wednesday and was ordered to change the way it puts search and web-browser apps onto Android mobile devices. Google was given until mid-October to stop what the EU called "illegal practices" on contracts with handset manufacturers that push its services in front of users. The company faces daily fines of 5 per cent of revenue if it doesn’t obey.

The penalty -- the same amount the Netherlands contributes to the EU budget every year -- is far higher than any other dished out by the U.S., Chinese or other antitrust authorities.

The U.S. is unlikely to match the European Union’s fine. Competition regulation is divvied up by the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice. While new FTC Chairman Joseph Simons told Congress Wednesday that the agency will review the EU findings closely, the same agency closed its own probe of Google years ago.

EU Antitrust Commissioner Margrethe Vestager’s fine on Google comes just a year after slapping the company with a 2.4 billion-euro penalty for thwarting online shopping rivals. It’s the latest in a series of EU strikes on Silicon Valley giants that also included hefty back tax bills for Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc., accused of receiving unfair fiscal deals from EU nations.