Chirac tax discourages tourists flying to France


French President Jacques Chirac makes yet another empty gesture. He wants to add a fee to airline tickets to and from France, and send the proceeds to a fund designed to combat AIDs, TB, and other diseases in Africa. He calls it a "solidarity levy" and hopes that it will spread worldwide, generating $12 billion per year. The New York Sun notes:

It's not at all clear that more money will help fight disease in the developing world. Consider but one way current aid money is spent: to pay taxes imposed on medicines by the developing countries themselves. As an American Enterprise Institute scholar, Roger Bate, has noted, Kenya imposes taxes and tariffs of 38% on many drugs, Nigeria 28%, and Uganda 31%.

Without addressing this problem, Mr. Chirac's plan will merely subsidize governments that are essentially profiteering from foreign aid. A better start might be a step in favor of free trade. But for Mr. Chirac, "solidarity" apparently extends only as far as a marginal surcharge on airline tickets purchased mainly by people from other countries.

France is the number tourist destination for foreign visitors. France has just told them that they will shaken down one more time in order to allow the French to claim they are virtuous.

The French state and Air France have invested enormous sums in making Paris Charles de Gaulle airport an international hub, reaping large revenues from travelers from Houston to Dahomey or Cincinnati to Tel Aviv, for example, people who only want a smooth trip, not a visit to France. Such travelers will apparently pay 4 "levies" on a round trip journey connecting through CDG. It may not be enough to drive them to the chaos at Heathrow, but it ight incline them to put up with Frankfurt, Amsterdam, or other possible routing choices.

Chirac clearly regards the non—French and the business community with disdain, sheep ready for further shearing.

Ed Lasky and Thomas Lifson   8 30 05