G7 nations very close to global corporate tax deal, says France - GulfToday

G7 nations very close to global corporate tax deal, says France


Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak speaks at a meeting of finance ministers from across the G7 nations at Lancaster House in London, Britain, on Friday. Reuters

Some of the world’s richest nations are within touching distance of a historic deal to close the net on large companies which do not pay their fair share of tax, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Friday after a day of talks in London.

Finance ministers from the Group of Seven are meeting in person for the first time since the start of the COVID pandemic, after US President Joe Biden’s administration gave fresh impetus to stalled global tax talks this year.

Rich nations have struggled for years to agree a way to raise more tax from large multinationals such as Google, Amazon and Facebook, which often book profits in jurisdictions where they pay little or no tax.

“We are just one millimetre away from a historic agreement,” Le Maire told the BBC after leaving the talks.

But major disagreements do remain on both the minimum rate at which companies should be taxed, and on how the rules will be drawn up to ensure that very large companies with lower profit margins, such as Amazon, face higher taxes.

The United States has proposed a minimum corporation tax rate of 15%, above the level in countries such as Ireland but well below the average in the G7.

Le Maire said this represented “only a starting point”.

“We need something that is credible,” he added. “We are still working on this very tricky point of the rate.”

British finance minister Rishi Sunak is hosting the meeting, and told ministers that the rest of the world was watching.

Due to COVID restrictions, ministerial delegations have been cut down and there are fewer travelling journalists. Seating plans have been redesigned with the help of health officials, and Sunak greeted leaders by bumping elbows, not shaking hands.

“We cannot continue to rely on a tax system that was largely designed in the 1920s,” he said.

Le Maire said a deal would send an important signal that the G7 - consisting of the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada - could still be influential.

Any deal would still need much wider global buy-in, at a meeting of the G20 in Venice in July.

Japan’s finance minister Taro Aso said on Monday that he did not expect agreement this week on a specific minimum tax rate.

The US Treasury expects a fuller agreement to come when Biden and other heads of government meet at a secluded beach resort in southwest England on June 11-13.

The United States has proposed a minimum global corporate tax rate of at least 15%. If a company paid tax somewhere with a lower rate, it would probably have to pay top-up taxes.

Biden had been planning to raise the U.S. domestic corporate tax headline rate to as high as 28%. But on Thursday he offered to keep the rate unchanged at 21% but proposed a 15% tax floor after deductions and credits in a bid to gain support from Republicans for new spending measures.

But just as important for Britain and many other countries is that companies pay more tax where they make their sales - not just where they book profits, or locate their headquarters.

The United States wants an end to the digital services taxes which Britain, France and Italy have levied, and which it views as unfairly targeting U.S. tech giants for tax practices that European companies also use.

British, Italian and Spanish fashion, cosmetics and luxury goods exports to the United States will be among those facing new 25% tariffs later this year if there is no compromise.

The U.S. has proposed levying the new global minimum tax only on the world’s 100 largest and most profitable companies.

Britain, Germany and France are open to this approach but want to ensure companies such as Amazon - which has lower profit margins than other tech firms - do not escape the net.

The G7 health ministers meeting in Britain agreed on Friday to step up coordination against future pandemics and other threats, but made no new commitments to speed up vaccine deliveries to less developed countries.

Ministers from the group of wealthy nations, meeting in Oxford in southern England ahead of next week’s G7 summit, agreed a new charter to deliver international clinical trials of treatments and vaccines.

The agreement aims to make it easier and quicker to share results from vaccine and therapeutic trials to tackle Covid-19 and future health issues, the ministers said in a joint declaration.

The pact should help to avoid unnecessary duplication of efforts and speed up the elimination of medicines that do not work, the statement added.

The ministers also agreed to collaborate on mutual recognition of testing and vaccination certificates across countries.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock hailed the “landmark agreements” as ensuring the world would be “better prepared for future threats”.

They contain “a series of measures to make us all safer by improving clinical trials, quicker and wider access to safe vaccines, better use of data, (and) more accurate health surveillance tools,” he said in a statement.


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