Merkel aims to step up work on digital tax with US

German Chancellor Angela Merkel hoped to intensify work on minimum taxation of digital companies.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel hoped to intensify work on minimum taxation of digital companies.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BERLIN • German Chancellor Angela Merkel said yesterday she hoped to step up work with US President Joe Biden's new administration on the minimum taxation of digital companies.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) outlined last year the first major rewriting in a generation of international rules for taxing cross-border businesses like Google, Apple and Facebook.

"I hope that with the new American administration, we can now continue and intensify the work of the OECD on the minimum taxation of digital companies," Dr Merkel told the World Economic Forum Davos Agenda 2021 by video conference.

She hoped "that we will succeed in once again anchoring the central role of competition law globally and preventing the emergence of monopolies".

Dr Merkel called on world leaders to work more closely together to overcome the pandemic, which she said will influence people's lives for years to come.

The global crisis underscored the value of international cooperation and the limits of nationalism.

"This is the hour of multilateralism," she said.

"We see that in such an existential case, the attempt to isolate fails long term, at least in relation to this pandemic, it failed."

The German leader, who regularly clashed with former US president Donald Trump's "America First" doctrine, said it was an "important sign" that the United States is rejoining the World Health Organisation and called on Mr Biden to unblock the World Trade Organisation.

In a telephone call with the German leader on Monday, Mr Biden spoke of his intent to "revitalise the transatlantic alliance, including through Nato and with the European Union", according to a White House readout.

Dr Merkel invited Mr Biden to visit Germany once pandemic-related travel restrictions ease.

She has been sounding the alarm over faster-spreading mutations of the coronavirus, pushing for tougher measures even as infection rates decline.

Prolonged lockdowns and a sluggish vaccine roll-out are clouding Dr Merkel's final months in office before she steps down after the September elections.

She also urged for a fair distribution of coronavirus vaccines across the world.

"Let's not kid ourselves. The question of who gets which vaccine in the world will of course leave new wounds and new memories, because those who get such emergency help will remember that."

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 27, 2021, with the headline 'Merkel aims to step up work on digital tax with US'. Subscribe