The G7 is not all it’s cracked up to be

UK chancellor Rishi Sunak has hailed the Group of Seven (G7) finance ministers’ cross-border tax proposals as ‘truly historic’ and ‘seismic’. These proposals, which would establish a minimum global corporate tax, are to be targeted at multinational companies.

You can understand why Sunak was making noise about this. For years the largest international corporations, including the iconic Big Tech firms, have been adept at minimising their global tax bills. Making them stump up more lucre allows the UK government to pose as a global leader, and to give substance to its ill-defined ‘Global Britain’ slogan. No doubt there will be more of this from Boris Johnson this weekend, given it is Britain’s turn to host the G7.

Leaving aside the hyperbole from British ministers, what might the G7 tax agreement tell us about the state of international relations? In particular, does it represent the historic revival of ‘multilateral co-operation’, as many commentators have claimed? No, not really, is the short answer. Read the full article here.

Don’t blame Covid for economic devastation

It is unhelpful to present the economic disruptions over 2020 as costs of the pandemic itself. Claims that it is the virus, and not the restrictions, that is causing today’s devastating economic damage to production and jobs are misleading.

Understanding better how the economy is being hit is important for several reasons. A firmer grasp of all the costs arising from lockdowns and other official social restrictions is necessary for sound policymaking. Making decisions based on epidemiological models without a broader assessment of the costs – social, health and economic – and of how they have arisen is a reckless approach from political leaders.

Moreover, these other impacts from the pandemic measures are helpful in assessing the lessons to be learned in preparing for and managing future pandemics.

Read the full article here.

The tyranny of the EU’s state-aid rules

The esoteric area of European Union state-aid rules has become a focal point in the dragging negotiations between Britain and the EU. Alongside access to British fishing grounds, the question of the UK continuing to adhere to the EU’s rules for state aid is reported to be the big sticking point jeopardising an agreement on future trade terms. On top of this, the same issue of state-aid rules is prominent in the furore over the publication of Britain’s Internal Market Bill. The European Commission’s condemnation of the Conservative government’s proposals to override parts of last year’s Withdrawal Agreement spotlighted the UK’s obligation to notify Brussels of any state-aid decisions that might affect Northern Ireland’s goods market. Why have the state-aid rules attained such importance in the fraught UK-EU relationship? Why are they so crucial for the European Commission (EC)? Read the full article here.