July 12, 2018 / 12:17 PM / 2 months ago

EU to agree strong text against U.S. tariffs before G20

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union finance ministers are set to agree on Friday a joint position before a meeting with their counterparts at the G20 next week, in which they criticize “unilateral” U.S. trade measures and back a firm response.

FILE PHOTO: A European Union flags flutters outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium June 20, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman

EU ministers will also call for more global action on tax transparency and against money laundering, and will push for an international digital tax reform by 2020, according to a draft text that will form their mandate at the G20 meeting of finance ministers in Buenos Aires on July 19-22.

“The EU promotes international cooperation to modernize the WTO,” the EU draft text, seen by Reuters, said citing the World Trade Organisation.

It added that the EU “rejects WTO-inconsistent unilateral measures by others.”

“In this respect, we regret the recent U.S. decisions to impose import tariffs, which leave the EU no choice but to react in an adequate, proportionate and reasonable manner in full respect of WTO rules,” the document said.

An EU official said the draft statement is already widely supported by the 28 EU states and will be on the table of EU finance ministers at their regular monthly meeting in Brussels on Friday.

On the taxation of the digital economy, the draft text urge “ambitious, effective and workable global solutions to be agreed by 2020 at the latest.”

The text underlines however that while a global solution remains the best option, “many countries are interested in temporary measures” and recalls the EU commission’s plans to introduce a 3 percent tax on the digital turnover of large companies.

To increase tax transparency at global level, the text calls for the updating of an international list of tax havens compiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) which currently includes only Trinidad and Tobago.

The EU has adopted its own tax havens blacklist which currently includes seven jurisdictions.

The draft text calls for increasing cooperation and exchange of information at global level to prevent tax evasion, corruption and money laundering.

Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Alexandra Hudson

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