Climate Change, Global Tax Emerge as Snags for G-20 Communique
Finance chiefs from the world’s 20 largest economies haggled over climate change and proposals for a global tax regime as they tried to draft a joint communique at a conference overshadowed by a viral outbreak that’s shaken the global economy.
Delegates at the G-20 meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, spent much of their time talking about a global slowdown exacerbated by the coronavirus outbreak, but struggled to come up with a united response, according to people familiar with the deliberations. Countries such as Japan, and institutions including the Organization for Cooperation and Economic Development, have been pushing for those with surpluses to spend more.
One of the main addressees of the calls for more spending is Germany. So far, the export-driven country has showed little interest in significantly boosting expenditures, arguing fiscal stimulus can’t bolster foreign demand.
On climate change, differences of opinion on display in the Saudi capital were more stark. The U.S., represented by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, objected to including a reference to the subject, according to three people familiar with the communique-drafting process. The Saudi delegation, which is hosting the event, didn’t show much enthusiasm for it either, according to one of them.
A Treasury spokeswoman didn’t reply to a request for comment.
As of Sunday morning in Riyadh, it was also looking unlikely that representatives would leave Saudi Arabia with any breakthroughs on a global taxation system that would apply to multi-national companies including tech giants like Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc., according to the people.
Europeans have balked at a U.S. proposal that new global rules should be a “safe harbor” regime. Mnuchin sought to reassure his counterpart by insisting such a system would not mean the rules would be optional, but Europeans said they still needed to fully assess the proposal.
If there’s no agreement, several European nations will go ahead with taxes on revenues of multinational digital firms. That could spark a transatlantic trade war as the U.S. says such measures are discriminatory and has already threatened France with tariffs.
In introducing a so-called global minimum tax — a measure intended to prevent large companies from shifting profits to low-tax locales to avoid paying them at home — the two sides are closer to compromise as there’s little difference among current corporate tax rates among major economies, and little concern that the minimum tax would be too low, one person said.
©2020 Bloomberg News
Visit Bloomberg News at www.bloomberg.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
In The News
WASHINGTON — The $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill the House passed 233-188 Wednesday has little chance of advancing in the Republican-controlled Senate. But it fired a political warning shot: Democrats view climate change as a top issue for an already turbulent election year. “This bill, as audacious... Read More
House Democrats on Tuesday will issue an ambitious plan to combat climate change, a move intended to reassure their base of supporters but that’s sure to inflame opponents on the right. The proposal will be released at an event at the U.S. Capitol with Speaker Nancy... Read More
It’s a big year for the planet. April 22, 2020, marked the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, a celebration of the environmental movement that is honored around the world. But many are celebrating Earth Day indoors this year. The coronavirus has confined millions of people to... Read More
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards this week announced his priorities for the state’s coastal program for the next four years, and in a related move, named G. Charles Sutcliffe as the state’s first chief resilience officer. Edwards also announced the state will receive its maximum payment... Read More
Finance chiefs from the world’s 20 largest economies haggled over climate change and proposals for a global tax regime as they tried to draft a joint communique at a conference overshadowed by a viral outbreak that’s shaken the global economy. Delegates at the G-20 meeting in... Read More
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s declaration last month that climate change is a “serious subject” marked the completion of a yearlong shift away from his outright denial of the global threat — a shift, according to one former aide, driven by 2020 politics. William Happer, one... Read More