News Column

Tax Evasion Tops G8 Agenda

June 18, 2013
Global Tax Evasion

Group of Eight (G8) leaders were holding their second and final day of talks in Northern Ireland on Tuesday, with the global economy and tax avoidance high on the agenda.

The working meetings held in the luxury golf resort of Loch Erne, near the town of Enniskillen, were focusing on British Prime Minister David Cameron's so-called "three Ts" - updating international tax rules, greater financial transparency and opening up trade.

Leaders were also struggling to agree on a common statement on Syria, after clear divisions between Russia and the United States emerged during Monday's talks.

Following a bilateral meeting between Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin - their first face-to-face encounter in a year - the US president said Washington and Moscow continued to have "differing perspectives on the problem."

Obama said he and Putin shared an interest in reducing violence, securing chemical weapons and resolving the conflict through political means, with the two leaders agreeing that bringing the Syrian regime and rebels to the negotiating table remained the goal.

Germany, which unlike the United States has said it will not arm the Syrian rebels despite evidence pointing to the use of chemical weapons by the regime, announced that it was doubling its humanitarian assistance for Syrian refugees.

In a statement, the German government said 200 million euros (267 million dollars) will be added this year to the German fund for refugees from Syria's civil war, which currently stands at 190 million euros.

The United States said Monday it would provide an additional 300 million dollars in "life-saving humanitarian assistance."

As host of the summit, Cameron has taken a strong stand on the issue of capital flight to tax havens. If his plans are accepted, offshore havens like the Cayman Islands and Bermuda will in future be forced to exchange data.

Cameron also wants a register that reveals the ownership of shell companies.

In a statement released following a working meeting on the global economy, G8 leaders said economic growth and jobs were their "top priority," as they seek to address a "weak" global outlook in which unemployment is of particular concern.

The leaders agreed that stimulus measures enacted in the United States, the eurozone and Japan had reduced "downside risk," even as the eurozone remained in recession. However, the improved financial climate had failed to translate into increased growth in all regions.

"Promoting growth and jobs is our top priority. We agreed to nurture the global recovery by supporting demand, securing our public finances and exploiting all sources of growth. The fight against unemployment, particularly long-term and youth unemployment remains critical in our domestic and collective agendas," the statement said.

On Monday, the European Union and the United States also agreed to begin negotiations on a free-trade area that would embrace the world's two largest economic regions.

The Group of Eight comprises seven leading industrialized nations - Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, plus Russia and the European Union.

Obama was due to visit Berlin immediately after the G8.

Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH. Distributed by MCT Information Services

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