June 18, 2013

G-8 agrees to promote Syrian peace talks

The group of world leaders also announces new goals to combat tax avoidance by multinational companies.

By SHAWN POGATCHNIK / The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

President Barack Obama walks with British Prime Minister David Cameron, center, and Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny at the site of the G-8 summit in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, on Tuesday.

The Associated Press

Washington said it was committed to reforming the global accounting rules and collecting more of U.S. companies' profits banked outside American shores.

"The goal of cracking down on tax avoidance, bringing greater transparency to it, this is something we've pursued in the United States, and we agree with Prime Minister Cameron that we can work together multilaterally to promote approaches that achieve those objectives," said Ben Rhodes, President Barack Obama's deputy national security adviser.

Campaigners for greater tax transparency appealed to the G-8 to ensure that reforms benefited the poorest countries of Africa, South America and Asia as well as the rich West. Anti-poverty campaigners have stressed that shell companies are a key method of spiriting away funds from a country.

Cameron says Britain will lead by example by creating a registry of who really owns companies, and will consider making it public – an idea viewed skeptically by many other countries fearful of scaring companies out of their jurisdictions.

"G-8 leaders must decide whether they want to shape the transparency revolution or resist the tide of history," said Adrian Lovett, Europe executive director at development campaign group One.

However, Britain itself stands accused of being one of the world's main links in the tax-avoidance chain. Several of Britain's own island territories – including Jersey, Guernsey and the British Virgin Islands – serve as shelters and funnel billions each week through the city of London.

"Of course, Britain's got to put its own house in order," said Britain's treasury chief, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, who addressed the G-8 meeting on corporate tax reform along with International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde.

Before the summit, Britain announced a provisional agreement with the finance chiefs of nine of its offshore dependencies and territories to improve their sharing of information on individuals and companies banking cash there.

Also Tuesday, Cameron won commitment from all eight nations to stop paying ransoms to kidnappers in hopes of deterring the practice following January's bloody capture by al-Qaeda-linked militants of an Algerian gas facility. Ten Japanese, five Britons, three Americans and a French national were among the 40 civilians killed as Algerian forces retook the facility.

Hostage-taking of foreign workers for cash payments is on the rise across much of West Africa, particularly Nigeria with its own oil industry dominated by Western companies and foreign managers.

Cameron invited the leaders of Libya and the African Union to join the talks over lunch to discuss the issue.

The summit was concluding with rapid-fire statements by each departing leader. Obama was scheduled to continue his European trip Tuesday night in Germany.

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors

Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)