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Schaeuble to put financial transaction tax on global agenda

[LUXEMBOURG] German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Saturday he's putting efforts to tax financial transactions on the global agenda after attempts in Europe have stalled, even if results will only materialise after "years."

Speaking to reporters in Chengdu, China, on the sidelines of a meeting of Group of 20 finance chiefs, Mr Schaeuble cited G-20 progress in efforts to curb tax avoidance, through the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting initiative, as encouragement for his plan.

"Everybody agrees that it would be right to do this at a global level, but no one has tried," Mr Schaeuble said. "That's why I've given it a go and said that this is something we should get under way as the next step in our fruitful cooperation" on tax matters.

Plans for a financial transaction tax already failed among all 28 European Union nations, and the current talks are seeking a compromise among a smaller group that sought to press on under "enhanced cooperation" rules, which require consensus from at least nine nations. The countries still involved are Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.

That group was able to avoid "the total failure" of the financial transaction tax initiative thanks to a compromise proposal by Austrian Finance Minister Hans Joerg Schelling, Mr Schaeuble told reporters after a meeting of EU finance ministers in Luxembourg in June. The final fate of the initiative will be determined at a ministerial meeting in September, Mr Schelling said then.

"Indeed we're hitting a wall in Europe trying to reach a European solution or one under enhanced cooperation," Mr Schaeuble said. "You see I started the BEPS initiative some years ago in Mexico, and no one thought that this would bear fruit."