G20 to urge Ireland to sign up to global tax deal

Summit increases pressure on countries who have not signed corporate tax deal

Pressure on Ireland to sign a major deal on global corporate tax reform is increasing, with the G20 summit calling on all countries who are holding out to sign up. Ireland is one of eight countries who have not signed an agreement committing to a minimum global corporate tax rate of at least 15 per cent.

Finance ministers representing the G20 large economies have backed the deal setting a global floor for corporate tax rates and will push to resolve outstanding issues on it by October, the latest draft of a joint communiqué said.

The communiqué, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, urged any hold-out nations to join the deal.

“We call on [countries involved in the global talks] to swiftly address the remaining issues and finalise the design elements within the agreed framework together with a detailed plan for the implementation of the two pillars by our next meeting in October,” the statement said.

“We invite all members [involved in the discussion] that have not yet joined the international agreement to do so.”

The statement, if approved, represents political endorsement of an agreement this month among 131 countries, at talks hosted by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), on taxation of multinationals’ profits and setting a global minimum corporate tax rate of at least 15 per cent. Nine countries initially did not sign the deal, but Peru – where the government has changed – has now done so.

The aim is to have G20 leaders give it final blessing at an October summit in Rome.

If all goes to plan, the new tax rules should be translated into binding legislation worldwide before the end of 2023. However, a fight in the US Congress over President Joe Biden’s proposed tax increases on corporations and wealthy Americans could yet create hurdles.

Equally, there could be difficulties because EU member states Ireland, Estonia and Hungary are among the countries that have not yet signed up to the deal. Ireland’s corporate tax rate is 12.5 per cent and on July 1st, it was one of the countries who did not sign the agreement. Minister for Finance, ,Paschal Donohoe has said Ireland will remain in the talks and hopes to be able to agree the terms of a deal. However he said at the moment he has difficulties with the minimum tax issue, where there is no clarity yet where the OECD agreement will land.

“I am convinced that in the end we will come to a joint decision in the EU,” German finance minister Olaf Scholz told radio station DLF before heading to the G20 talks.

Recovery from pandemic

The meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bankers in Venice is their first face-to-face encounter since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The G20 members account for more than 80 per cent of world gross domestic product, 75 per cent of global trade and 60 per cent of the population of the planet, including big-hitters the United States, Japan, Britain, France, Germany and India.

In an addition to earlier drafts, the communiqué said the support measures being put in place by wealthier countries to shield their economies from the ravages of the pandemic must be in line with central bank commitments to keep inflation stable.

“We will continue to sustain the recovery, avoiding any premature withdrawal of support measures, while remaining consistent with central bank mandates – including on price stability,” it read.

Concerns have been rising recently that ultra-loose monetary policy in many countries following the pandemic could unleash a surge in inflation, possibly testing major central banks’ commitment to maintain stable prices.

The statement also urged faster distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, drugs and tests across the world, but made no new commitments to that end, and called on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to come up with ways for countries to steer IMF resources towards needier nations.

The IMF said on Friday its executive board has backed a $650 billion (€547 billion) allocation of IMF special drawing rights, advancing the distribution of currency reserves to the IMF’s 190 member countries towards a targeted completion by the end of August.

Carbon frictions

Climate change policy will also feature at the Venice talks. Speaking at a climate tax forum there before the G20 meeting, US treasury secretary Janet Yellen called for better international co-ordination to avoid trade frictions.

She was speaking days before the EU unveils next week a so-called carbon border adjustment mechanism imposing levies on the carbon content of imported goods.

The scheme is an attempt to discourage “carbon leakage”, the transfer of production to countries with less onerous emission restrictions, but some trading partners fear it could act as a protectionist tool.

“Recognising the different paths countries are taking to address climate change could help avoid policy measures to address carbon leakage that inadvertently create new international risks and spillovers,” Ms Yellen said.

– Reuters