G20 summit: Leaders endorse global minimum corporate tax rate

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Oct. 30 (UPI) — Twenty of the world’s leading economies endorsed a global minimum tax rate Saturday in Rome during the first in-person session of the G20 summit since the start of the pandemic.

“We reached a historic agreement for a fairer and more equitable tax system,” Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said in remarks opening the summit’s first session.

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The world’s developed nations plan to impose a 15% global minimum corporate tax rate from 2023 under the agreement to prevent large companies from shifting profits to other countries to avoid paying taxes. Earlier this month, 136 countries and jurisdictions representing more than 90% of global gross domestic product agreed to the landmark deal.

The endorsement Saturday represented a diplomatic victory for President Joe Biden‘s plan to overhaul the global tax system with the minimum tax on corporate earnings.

The new corporate tax rule will be formalized during a final communique Sunday when the summit ends.

Biden, meanwhile, met with leaders of Britain, France and Germany later Saturday to discuss how to get the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran back on track and ways to work together to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Former President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear deal days before a deadline to recertify the 2015 pact in May 2018, calling it “defective at its core.”

“We expressed our determination to ensure that Iran can never develop or acquire a nuclear weapon and shared our grave and growing concern that, while Iran halted negotiations on a return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action since June, it has accelerated the pace of provocative nuclear steps, such as the production of highly enriched uranium and enriched uranium metal,” a joint statement by French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Biden said.

The leaders from the four countries added that “decreased cooperation and transparency with the International Atomic Energy Agency,” has made the situation worse.

They continued that the situation calls for the return of the United States to the 2015 nuclear accord as long as Iran fully complies as well.

“This will only be possible if Iran changes course,” the statement said. “We call upon President [Ebrahim] Raisi to seize the opportunity and return to a good faith effort to conclude our negotiations as a matter of urgency.”

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Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani, said earlier this week that Tehran is on board to restart nuclear talks.

Vaccines for COVID-19 and climate change are also expected to be key topics at the summit.

“We are now in the second year of a global pandemic that has killed four million people,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a speech before the meeting. “Extreme climate events regularly devastate vulnerable communities.”

“You have come together, to determine the course of some of the most pressing issues we face: access to vaccines; extending an economic lifeline to the developing world; and more and better public finance for ambitious climate action,” Guterres added.

Ahead of Saturday’s meeting, health and finance ministers called for 70% of world’s population to to be vaccinated against COVID-19 over the next eight months. G20 countries receive 15 times more doses per capita than countries in sub-Saharan Africa, according to a new analysis by science analytics company Airfinity.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping were absent from the G20 conference, citing COVID-19 concerns.

The G20 meeting comes ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP26, in Glasgow next week.

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The last G20 summit hosted by Saudi Arabia was held virtually in November and was focused on distribution of funds for COVID-19 vaccines.