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Leaders shift focus to economy at G8 summit

Leaders of wealthiest nations discuss tax, trade and transparency on the final days of talks in Northern Ireland.

Last Modified: 18 Jun 2013 11:51
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Leaders of the G8 countries will be spending the final hours of the summit focusing on how to deter kidnappings of foreign workers in Africa, and how best to corner globe-trotting companies into paying more taxes.

G8 leaders agreed to curb the payment of ransoms for hostages kidnapped by "terrorists", British Prime Minister David Cameron's office said at the summit in Northern Ireland on Tuesday.

Downing Street said the world leaders would also call on companies to follow their lead in refusing to pay for the release of abductees.

Hostage-taking of foreign workers for cash payments is on the rise across much of West Africa, particularly Nigeria with its own oil industry dominated by Western companies and foreign managers.

Syria statement

Elsewhere, on the sidelines of the final talks at the summit, officials said they were close to agreeing on a statement on the Syria conflict despite deep divisions between the Russian President Vladimir Putin and the rest of the G8.

However, the leaders are still working out the exact wording of the final communique they will issue, officials from two Western nations told the AFP news agency.

The statement is likely to focus on less contentious issues such as the need to push for a Syria peace conference in Geneva, and on humanitarian aid, one official said on condition of anonymity.

Syria was discussed for a second time on Tuesday during a session on counter-terrorism, following a lengthy discussion during the leaders' dinner on Monday, another source said.

As well as host Britain, the G8 includes the US, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Russia.

Public pressure

The G8 leaders also are expected to agree on new measures to restrict the ability of multinational corporations to avoid paying taxes in their home countries by using shell companies and other legal accounting tricks to shelter cash in principalities and islands, many of them British, that charge little or no tax.

Al Jazeera's Laurence Lee, reporting from Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, said there was a lot of public pressure to make sure companies are taxed in their home countries, especially when normal citizens were having to bear the brunt of austerity measures.

The British Treasury chief George Osborne is taking part to help explain Britain's agreement, unveiled last week, with its far-flung crown dependencies and overseas territories - including the Channel Islands, Gibraltar and Anguilla - to start sharing more information on which foreign companies bank their profits there.

"You're going to see concrete achievements today on changing the international rules on taxation, so individuals can't hide their money offshore and companies don't shift their profits away from where the profit is made,'' Osborne said.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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