Germany hopes to step up work on digital tax with Biden administration: Merkel at WEF event

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

BERLIN (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG, AFP) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday (Jan 26) she hoped to intensify work with United States President Joe Biden's new administration on minimum taxation of digital companies.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development 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 event 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".

During her address, Dr Merkel called on world leaders to work more closely together to overcome the coronavirus 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 US is rejoining the World Health Organisation, and called on President 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.

The German leader 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 rollout are clouding Dr Merkel's final months in office before she steps down after September elections.

"The pandemic leaves deep traces in our economy and society," she said.

She also urged 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."

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