ROME – President Joe Biden and leaders of some of the world’s wealthiest nations on Saturday backed a 15% global minimum corporate tax, a dramatic restructuring of the international tax system that is intended to make sure big companies pay their fair share.
Finance ministers of almost 140 countries had already backed the tax change. Leaders at the Group of 20, or G-20, summit came out in support of the tax during the opening session of their first in-person gathering in two years.
“We reached a historic agreement for a fairer and more equitable tax system,” Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi announced during his opening remarks in the first session of the two-day summit.
A formal endorsement of the tax restructuring is expected to come in a joint communiqué on Sunday.
The G-20’s support of the international tax package amounted to a victory of sorts for Biden, who is pushing Congress to pass a 15% minimum tax on corporate earnings to help pay for one of his key domestic plans – an ambitious package of climate change and social safety proposals.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi greets President Joe Biden as he arrives for the G-20 Summit of world leaders in Rome.
Global health concerns also were on the agenda for the opening of the G-20 session, which is taking place in a modernist, cloud-shaped convention center in Rome.
G-20 leaders are exploring ways to prevent another pandemic like COVID-19, which has killed nearly 5 million people worldwide, including more than 743,000 Americans.
In his opening remarks, Draghi called for wealthy nations to speed up the distribution of vaccines to poor countries. Only 3% of people who live in the poorest countries have been vaccinated, while 70% of people who live in wealthy countries have gotten at least one shot.
The disparity is “morally unacceptable,” he said.
More:Biden looks to ease tensions with Europe, tackle climate change at global summits\
Also Saturday, Biden met with three European allies – German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson – to chart a path forward on negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.
Biden’s advisers have been trying to revive a 2015 agreement that limited Iran’s ability to enrich uranium to weapons-grade levels. Then-President Donald Trump withdrew from agreement in 2018.