What should have been a watershed G20 summit for shared global prosperity fell short of its potential – but some of the strongest ideas, especially the Robin Hood Tax, did overcome the opposition of some countries, says international agency Oxfam.
“It’s shameful that measures that could have helped pull millions of people out of poverty and contribute to global growth got ignored or paid lip-service,” said Oxfam spokesperson Luc Lampriere.
“But there are genuine rays of hope – like a Financial Transaction Tax – that could benefit the poorest people in the world.”
“An FTT has kicked off in Cannes,” Lampriere said. France, Spain and Germany remain champions. Brazil, Argentina, Ethiopia and South Africa swung in behind, all affirming that revenues will be used for development. The US backed away from its previous objection to European FTTs, opening space for other countries in the future. “Next step – make it real as soon as possible,” he said.
The G20 recognized that innovative sources of finance are needed to fight climate change in poor countries, laying the foundation for a deal on a fair carbon charge for shipping to be struck at the UN climate talks in Durban later this month. At the G20, France, Germany and South Africa championed the proposal – while a number of other countries rallied to it for the first time.
The big losers were the nearly one billion poor hungry people who the G20 could have helped by reforming the broken food system.
“President Sarkozy laid the G20 table with practical measures to rein in skyrocketing food prices, but the leaders left most of them on their plate,” Lampriere said.
“The G20 took a first step on increasing market transparency and piloting regional food reserves. And they offered a conditional nod to improved regulation of commodities derivatives,” he said. “But they dealt primarily with consequences of high prices, not the causes, such as excessive speculation and biofuels policies that turn massive quantities of food into fuel.”
“The multilateral tax convention signed in Cannes should be helpful in theory, but it came with a flaw – it is not designed to help poor countries recoup the 125 billion Euros in tax revenue they lose each year,” Lampriere said. “UK and Germany instead are pushing bilateral deals that allow tax havens to keep their secrets safe.”