International Taxpayer Leaders Forum Newsletter, N. 61

Section: Members Highlights / Taxpayer Leaders Forum / WTA Blog
26 July 2017 | Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) / United States
United States


Special Events

Regional Taxpayers Forum Bangkok Thailand, December 8-10, 2017
The second WTA-sponsored Regional Taxpayers Forum in 2017 will take place in Bangkok Thailand, December 8-10. The World Taxpayers Associations along with Asia-Pacific Taxpayers Union are pleased to invite Asian and international delegates to join us in an exchange of ideas and best practices to advance the cause of limited and accountable government. Attached to the event, Atlas Network is going to host the Asia Think Thank Essential Workshop from December 11-13. This is an excellent opportunity for taxpayer leaders. Anyone who would like to take part in the training should apply  here.

Updates on EU Tax Harmonization

Defense, euro zone center stage for Franco-German alliance as Brexit looms
France and Germany set out plans to make fighter jets together and tighten euro zone cooperation on Thursday as the European Union’s two biggest economies look to life beyond Brexit. Speaking after a joint meeting of their cabinet ministers in Paris, the first since this year’s French presidential and parliamentary elections, Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron also flagged their aim to harmonize taxes within the EU and develop a coherent digital strategy for the bloc. Continue Reading

Updates on Taxation & Sharing Economy

Alibaba Takes a Spin in China’s Growing Bike-Sharing Economy 
The bike-sharing sector in China has experienced sharp growth over the past year, and the country’s largest tech companies are now paying close attention. This week, Alibaba joined the ranks of investors in bike-sharing service Ofo by participating in a Series E funding round that raised $700 million. Previous investors in the company included Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial, as well as China’s leading taxi-hailing platform Didi Chuxing. Continue Reading

Updates on Tax Reform

Trump’s tax reform: What needs to happen next
While a lot of attention in the nation’s capital has been focused on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, Republicans have a full docket of items to tackle within the coming months including raising the debt ceiling, passing a spending bill and overhauling the U.S. tax code. The Senate delayed its August recess in order to make progress on these legislative goals. While Americans eagerly await the Trump administration’s long-anticipated tax cuts, there are a couple of things that have to happen in Congress before households see any benefit. Continue Reading

Updates on TPP

TPP, the Trade Deal Trump Killed, Is Back in Talks Without U.S.
When President Trump pulled out of his predecessor’s signature trade deal on his first full weekday in office, the 11 other countries that had negotiated the pact were left wondering if years of work had just gone down the drain. This week, those countries indicated that they wanted to press ahead with the so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, a sweeping multinational trade agreement that had originally been sold as a way to tether the United States more closely to East Asia and to create an economic bloc capable of standing against an increasingly muscular China. Continue Reading
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Taxpayer Leaders Forum (TLF), sponsored by Americans for Tax Reform, is an international network of free-market taxpayer groups, with the goal of promoting limited government and lower taxes.

International Taxpayer Leaders Forum Newsletter, N. 61

North America

U.S. not committed to completing NAFTA talks by end of 2017: Trump’s trade czar
U.S. President Donald Trump’s point person on trade says the administration’s top priority is locking down the best deal possible for the U.S. in the upcoming NAFTA renegotiation– and therefore it has no deadline to complete the talks. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told the Senate finance committee Wednesday that while he wants to move as quickly as possible, sealing a “very high-standard” agreement is of far greater importance. Lighthizer said his pursuit of quality over speed during the renegotiation of the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement means he has set no deadline — not even an artificial one. Continue Reading

Trump Pushing America First Prompts G-20 Deadlock on Free Trade
World leaders meeting in Hamburg ran into a major rift over global economic policy as President Donald Trump held firm to his America First doctrine at the expense of unity. The first day of a two-day summit of Group of 20 leaders was marred by disagreement on free trade and on climate change, with Trump’s protectionist stance the chief sticking point. During a working lunch, Trump stressed that he will always defend the American worker, according to a western diplomatic official familiar with the closed-door session. Continue Reading

Mnuchin still expects middle-class tax cuts in 2017
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday the Trump administration still aims to pass tax reform legislation this year and its focus is on cutting taxes for middle-class Americans and businesses rather than the wealthy. “We’re absolutely committed to getting tax reform done this year,” Mnuchin said on ABC’s This Week With George Stephanopoulos. “It’s critical for economic growth. We need to get back to 3% or better GDP.” Continue Reading

EU, Canada agree start of free trade agreement
The European Union and Canada said on Saturdaythey had agreed to start a free trade agreement on Sept. 21, paving the way for over 90 percent of the treaty to come into effect. The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) has been championed by both sides as a landmark deal for open markets against a protectionist tide, but last-minute wrangles over cheese and pharmaceuticals were holding up its start. Continue Reading

IRS boss Koskinen backs tax reform, calls system ‘a mess’
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said Wednesdaythat the agency fully supports tax reform efforts, acknowledging the existing U.S. tax code is such a “mess” that even he struggles to fill out his federal returns. “Nobody’s more supportive of tax simplification than the IRS. … The tax code is a mess. It is difficult for the IRS commissioner to fill out his tax returns,” Koskinen, who has a Yale law degree, told Fox News at a Washington, D.C., conference on improving government services. Continue Reading

Will Seattle’s income tax on the rich backfire?
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray describes the city’s new income tax on affluent residentsas “a new formula for fairness,” but some experts are asking whether the controversial plan will deliver what it promises. The income tax is designed to help narrow the growing divide between rich and poor in a city with a fast-growing technology sector. Murray also framed the tax as a response to President Donald Trump’s budget, which proposes to cut federal spending on social services, housing and other sectors that deeply affect U.S. cities and states. Continue Reading

Global Minimum Tax Re-Emerges in U.S. Tax Reform Debate
Members of Congress seeking a new glue to hold hopes of tax reform together are toying with one of the few bipartisan ideas left in Washington-a minimum tax on U.S. corporations to ensure that their earnings anywhere on the globe are taxed. Variations on the idea are in both the tax reform draft offered in 2014 by former Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.)-which Senate staffers picked up and explored through June and the first part of July-and in alternative proposals now circulating on Capitol Hill. Continue Reading

Majority of U.S. firms say free trade with Canada helps their economy
More than one in two American businesses say the United States is better off because of free trade with Canada, with particularly strong support in the northeastern U.S., according to a new poll. A new Nanos survey found that 54 per cent of U.S. businesses think the country’s economy is in a better position because of free trade with Canada, while 15 per cent believe it is worse off, 17 per cent believe there has been no impact and 14 per cent are unsure. Continue Reading


Brazil’s Temer says to begin work soon on simplifying tax code
Brazil’s President Michel Temer said on Monday that he soon plans to start work on simplifying the country’s tax code, following the government’s successful passage last week of a landmark labor reform. In a video posted to his Twitter account, Temer cited job creation and a recovery in investment as signs that Latin America’s largest economy is leaving recession behind. Continue Reading

Airbnb Tries Making Peace With Tax Collectors in Booming Mexico
When Elvira Fernandez decided to turn her Mexico City apartment into a temporary rental space through Airbnb Inc., she never imagined she’d be cashing in as much as 50 percent more than a long-term lease would’ve yielded. Fernandez has a lengthy list of reasons why Airbnb is her best bet: She doesn’t have to deal with lawyers, guarantors, unpaid rents or bad tenants. Continue Reading

Washington threatens Venezuela with ‘strong’ economic sanctions over constituent
Venezuela’s emboldened opposition said President Nicolás Maduro must scrap plans to rewrite the constitution or face increasing pressure and rebellion on the streets, including a 24-hour strike on Thursday. In a press conference Monday, the coalition of opposition parties known as MUD said more that 7.6 million people had voted in Sunday’sunofficial referendum condemning government plans to overhaul the constitution. Continue Reading


EU and Japan reach free trade deal 
The European Union and Japan have formally agreed an outline free-trade deal. The agreement paves the way for trading in goods without tariff barriers between two of the world’s biggest economic areas. However, few specific details are known and a full, workable agreement may take some time. Two of the most important sectors are Japanese cars and, for Europe, EU farming goods into Japan. Continue Reading

IBL’s Flat Tax Policy is a Hot Topic in Italy 
The tax system has long been an unsustainable drag on the Italian economy: besides being excessively burdensome, it is amazingly complex. Contrary to the intentions of its own architects, it seems not to be particularly effective in helping the destitute, as the number of Italians living in absolute poverty has been on the rise in the last few years, to the astonishing figure of 4.5 million. These people aren’t helped at all by the Byzantine intricacy of our welfare system. Continue Reading

EU ready to start talks on new anti-dumping rules 
As US President Donald Trump prepares to block steel imports from China for reasons of national security, the EU will start fresh talks on the new anti-dumping rules next week (12 July). The green light given by the European Parliament on Wednesday (5 July) to begin negotiations with national governments has paved the way to discuss new rules on the calculation of import duties and tightening the grip on unfair trade practices, especially by China. Continue Reading

Georgia, Turkey look to widen free trade agreement 
Georgia and Turkey are taking actions to widen the existing free trade agreement between them and enable Georgian producers to increase export volume to Turkey. These issues were the main topics of discussion at the meeting between Georgia’s Economy Minister Giorgi Gakharia and his Turkish counterpart Nihat Zeybekçi. Continue Reading

Europe has corporate tax reform in its sights 
The new French government’s warm welcome to tech companies does not extend to granting absolution from tax. Bruno Le Maire, France’s finance minister, called last week for Europe to assert itself and “make Google, Amazon and Facebook pay what they owe to European taxpayers”. The subsequent ruling by a French court, which found that Google’s practice of routing sales through an Irish subsidiary was not in breach of French laws, shows how difficult it can be to act on such resolutions. Continue Reading


Australian PM says he won’t ‘muck around’ and wants a free trade deal with the UK ‘speedily’ after Brexit 
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said he wants to sign a free trade agreement with the UK “as soon as possible” after Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union and claimed he will not “muck about” getting it done. Speaking at a joint press conference with Theresa May in Downing Street Mr Turnbull said his Government;s approach is “very simple” and wants to sign an agreement as soon as the UK is legally able to do so. Continue Reading

NZ could face rougher road in free trade deal with EU compared to Australia 
New Zealand could face a rougher road in settling a free trade deal with the European Union compared to Australia. Agriculture tariffs and quotas, particularly for New Zealand beef, lamb and dairy products are expected to be among the crucial issues during trade talks. A Belgian MP in the European Parliament, Tom Vandenkendelaere, said there was a bigger focus on food for the New Zealand deal, whereas an Australian agreement would be much broader, particularly around service exports. Continue Reading

Govt wants tariff reduction in trade deals 
Federal Trade minister Steve Ciobo has told Sky News the government will focus on tariff reduction when negotiating trade deals with other nations. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has spent the week in Europe and had agreed to finalise trade deals with Indonesia, the EU and Britain. Its sparked calls for answers as to what Australia will get out of these deals and if it will mean more foreign workers will be allowed into the country. Mr Ciobo says negotiations with the EU will focus on lowerin tariffs for Australian exports. Continue Reading


Japan-EU agreement on a free trade pact 
An economic partnership deal between Japan and the European Union – over which leaders on both sides reached a broad agreement last week – should serve to emphasize the value of free and open trade at a time when it’s been challenged by the protectionist policies of U.S. President Donald Trump, who pulled the U.S. pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact among 12 Pacific-rim economies. The Japan-EU agreement should add momentum for reviving the TPP pact among its remaining 11 members, including Japan. Continue Reading

China sees free trade with Canada as way to avoid future controversies 
China is hoping a future free-trade deal with Canada will help it avoid future controversies such as the national security concerns that surfaced over a Chinese takeover of a Canadian satellite technology company. Lu Shaye, China’s ambassador to Canada, said in an interview that he believes a free-trade agreement would help alleviate some of the unknowns for Chinese investors in future deals like the contentious takeover of Norsat International Inc. Continue Reading

Japan emerging as a leader on trade liberalization, says APEC official Alan Bollard 
President Donald Trump may be talking tough on tradepulling the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), but most of the rest of the world is pushing ahead. Japan was emerging as a leader on free trade, as it edges closer to a free trade pact with the European Union which could be completed within months. “It’s an indication that other economies still think there’s a lot of benefit in free trade agreement negotiation,” said Alan Bollard, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) secretariat executive director. Continue Reading

Dhaka-Colombo free trade agreement soon 
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena termed his visit to Bangladesh historic as the two countries signed 14 instruments – 13 MoUs and one agreement – on Friday. Bangladesh and Sri Lanka also agreed to sign Free Trade Agreement (FTA) by this year, aiming to further strengthen and institutionalise bilateral trade cooperation, reported UNB. Sirisena and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina witnessed the signing of the instruments at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) following a bilateral meeting. Continue Reading

Bangladesh prepares to sign its maiden FTA 
Bangladesh is finally going to sign its first Bilateral Free Trade Agreement (BFTA). It will be with Sri Lanka and is likely to be inked within this year. Both countries agreed to do so during the visit of the Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena to Dhaka last week. Currently, bilateral trade between the two countries is very small– around $100 million with trade balance tilted to the island economy. Continue Reading

Middle East & North Africa

Tunisia: a free trade agreement with U.S. is possible 
Youssef Chahed, currently in Washington, on an official visit, insisted, according to a statement reported by Mosaique Fm, on the need to support the Tunisian economy by facilitating the presence of American investors in Tunisia. Continue Reading

Turkey to sign free trade agreement with Ukraine this year 
Turkish Deputy Economy Minister Fatih Metin said this at a meeting of the International Turkish Ukrainian Businessmen Association (TUID) in Kyiv on Tuesday, according to the Anadolu news agency. “According to Metin, the free trade agreement between Turkey and Ukraine is being drafted, but the sides have already agreed on most points of the document,” the statement reads. In his opinion, negotiations on the agreement are being delayed due to a significant difference in the cost price of industrial goods in Ukraine and Turkey. Continue Reading

Turkey and Thailand start free trade agreement talks 
Turkey and Thailand on Wednesday signed a declaration in Ankara to start negotiations for a free trade agreement. Speaking at the signing ceremony, Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said that once the agreement becomes operational trade volume will double in three years. “According to our impact analysis, exports of both countries to each other is projected to rise by 40 percent,” Zeybekci said. Continue Reading


Free trade and human capital investment key to Africa’s development 
At the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development that kicked-off this week, ECA’s Special Advisor on SDGs Aida Opoku-Mensah, informed the delegates that the SDGs and Africa’s Agenda 2063 “provide an opportunity for Africa to recast its transformation agenda within the framework of sustainable development.” Highlighting some levels of congruence between Agenda 2063 and the SDGs, she discussed a number of efforts underway to harness the synergies of both agendas. The result, she said, “is a synergy of the global sustainable development goals together with Africa’s own development aspirations.” Continue Reading

Somalia imposes taxes for firms operating from airport 
The Somali government said Tuesday they had reintroduced taxes for both local and foreign companies operating from the Mogadishu International Airport. Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Abdirahman Omar Osman said out of the 157 companies operating from the airport only nine currently pay taxes. “It is only right and proper that these companies, who profit from the situation in Somalia, contribute towards ending the political turmoil of the past and help build a prosperous and peaceful future,” Osman said in a statement. Continue Reading

New African free trade deal set to boost exports from SA
Twenty-six African countries are rapidly moving towards finalising a preferential trade agreement which will open up significant opportunities for South African exports. The countries being integrated into a tripartite free trade area (TFTA) – seen as a critical driver of regional integration on the continent – have a combined population of 625-million people and a total GDP of $1.6-trillion. Once the tariff negotiations are finalised, the TFTA will offer exporters preferential or zero tariffs into the markets of member countries. Continue Reading

Zambia says free trade facilitation key for landlocked countries
Twenty-six African countries are rapidly moving towards finalising a preferential trade agreement which will open up significant opportunities for South African exports. The countries being integrated into a tripartite free trade area (TFTA) – seen as a critical driver of regional integration on the continent – have a combined population of 625-million people and a total GDP of $1.6-trillion. Once the tariff negotiations are finalised, the TFTA will offer exporters preferential or zero tariffs into the markets of member countries. Continue Reading

Tripartite free trade area a breakthrough
The ministerial meeting of July 7, 2017 in Kampala injected fresh momentum into the tripartite negotiations to create a free trade area covering half of Africa after South Africa signed the Tripartite Agreement. This brings the total number of countries that have signed to 19. Madagascar and Botswana were expected to follow suit. South Africa signed the Tripartite Agreement the very hour that the remaining three annexes to the Tripartite Agreement were adopted by the Ministers following the conclusion of the ministerial meeting. Continue Reading
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