Leaders of the world’s biggest economies on Saturday endorsed a global minimum tax on corporations, a linchpin of new international tax rules aimed at blunting the edge of fiscal paradises amid skyrocketing profits of some multinational businesses. The move by the Group of 20 summit in Rome was hailed by US Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen as benefiting American businesses and workers. G20 finance ministers in July had already agreed on a 15 per cent minimum tax. It awaited formal endorsement at the summit on Saturday in Rome of the world’s economic powerhouses. Yellen predicted in a statement that the deal on new international tax rules, with a minimum global tax, “will end the damaging race to the bottom on corporate taxation”. The deal did fall short of US President Joe Biden ’s original call for a 21 per cent minimum tax. Still, Biden tweeted his satisfaction. “Here at the G20, leaders representing 80 per cent of the world’s GDP – allies and competitors alike – made clear their support for a strong global minimum tax,” the president said in the tweet. “This is more than just a tax deal – it’s diplomacy reshaping our global economy and delivering for our people.” Xi to G20: ‘developed countries’ should take lead on emissions The agreement aims to discourage multinationals from stashing profits in countries where they pay little or no taxes. Multinationals can earn big profits from things like trademarks and intellectual property, and can then assign earnings to a subsidiary in a tax haven country. Briefing reporters midway through the summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: “There are good things to report here. The world community has agreed on a minimum taxation of companies. That is a clear signal of justice in times of digitalisation.” Mathias Cormann, secretary general of the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, said that the deal clinched in Rome “will make our international tax arrangements fairer and work better in a digitalised and globalised economy”. The minimum rate “completely eliminates the incentive for businesses around the world to restructure their affairs to avoid tax”, Cormann contended. The corporate tax rate rule dominated the agenda midway through the summit. White House officials said the new tax rate would create at least US$60 billion in new revenue a year in the US – a stream of cash that could help partially pay for a nearly US$3 trillion social services and infrastructure package that Biden is seeking. US adoption is key because so many multinational companies are headquartered there. But Civil 20, which represents some 560 organisations from more than 100 countries in a network making recommendations to the G20, was less enthusiastic. The 15 per cent rate is “a little more than those [rates] we’d consider fiscal paradises”, Civil 20 official Riccardo Moro told reporters following the summit. WHO chief calls on G20 nations to end coronavirus vaccination crisis On other issues crucial to fairness across the globe – including access to Covid-19 vaccines – the summit heard pleas to boost the percentage of those in poor countries being vaccinated. Italian Premier Mario Draghi made a sharp call to pick up the pace in getting vaccines to poor countries. Draghi, the summit host, said on Saturday that only 3 per cent of people in the world’s poorest countries are vaccinated, while 70 per cent in rich countries have had at least one shot. “These differences are morally unacceptable and undermine the global recovery,” said Draghi, an economist and former chief of the European Central Bank. French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to use the summit to press fellow European Union leaders to be more generous in donating vaccines to low-income countries. But advocates of civil society which have held discussions with G20 officials said suspension of vaccine patents was crucial to increasing access in poor countries. Canada noted it was both sharing vaccines as well as donating money to develop production in South Africa, which is a G20 country. Chrystia Freeland, deputy prime minister, said Canada was increasing its commitment to international vaccine sharing through the Covax Facility by donating 200 million doses. US and EU strike trade deal to remove tariffs on steel and aluminium The summit is also confronting two-track global recovery in which rich countries are bouncing back faster. Rich countries have used vaccines and stimulus spending to restart economic activity, leaving the risk that developing countries that account for much of global growth will remain behind due to low vaccinations and financing difficulties. Macron has told reporters he expects the G20 to confirm an additional US$100 billion to support Africa’s economies. On the urgent problem of climate change , Italy is hoping the G20 will secure crucial commitments from countries responsible for about 80 per cent of global carbon emissions – ahead of the UN climate conference that begins on Sunday in Glasgow, Scotland, just as the Rome summit winds down. Most of the G20 leaders will head to Glasgow. Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Xi Jinping of China, whose efforts to reduce emissions are paramount to combating climate change , were taking part remotely in the Rome summit.