FirstFT: Historic global corporate tax agreement reached

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The world’s leading economies have signed up to a plan to force multinational companies to pay a global minimum corporate tax rate of at least 15 per cent following intense negotiations at the OECD in Paris.

The historic agreement among 130 countries will ensure the largest companies, including Big Tech, pay at least $100bn a year more in taxes, with more of that money going to the countries where they do most of their business. The OECD said the rules should be put in place next year and implemented in 2023.

Only nine of the 139 countries involved in the talks refused to sign up, including Ireland, Estonia and Hungary. All of the G20 leading nations backed the plan following lobbying by the US.

Five stories in the news

1. Xi issues warning to foreign rivals at CCP centenary Xi Jinping marked the centennial of the Chinese Communist party’s founding on Thursday with a nationalistic address in Beijing, warning that any infringements on the country’s sovereignty would be met by a “great wall of steel”. For more on the significance of the centenary, read on our Q&A with FT’s global China editor James Kynge.

2. Trump Organization and top executive charged with fraud Donald Trump’s family business and its longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, have been charged with criminal fraud by New York prosecutors for allegedly failing to pay tax on certain employee perks. The charges, unsealed by prosecutors on Thursday in Manhattan, mark a decisive turn in an almost three-year investigation.

3. Robinhood targets valuation of at least $40bn in IPO The online brokerage associated with the surge in day trading by retail investors is targeting a valuation of $40bn or more in its initial public offering, said people familiar with the plans, as the company published its fundraising prospectus on Thursday.

4. Nissan to build UK battery factory in £1bn Sunderland plan The Japanese car group’s plan for a large-scale battery factory as part of a £1bn electric investment secures the future of the car plant in the north-east of England beyond the UK’s ban on petrol and diesel sales in 2030.

5. US Supreme Court upholds Arizona law in voting rights challenge
In a 6-3 decision, Supreme Court justices upheld two Arizona voting laws that opponents said discriminated against racial minorities. The decision may make it more difficult to bring challenges to voting restrictions being enacted in states across the US.

Coronavirus digest

  • Phuket, the largest tourist island in Thailand, has begun a pilot scheme to accept vaccinated foreign visitors without forcing them to quarantine.

  • Indonesia is set to tighten distancing measures to counter record numbers of Covid-19 cases as experts warn the country is on the brink of a “catastrophe”.

  • Japanese business sentiment has risen to its strongest level since the final quarter of 2018 as the global economy rebounds from the pandemic.

  • Digital nomad lifestyles seem enviable — but what is it really like to be “location independent” in a pandemic?

For the latest coronavirus news, follow our live blog and sign up for our Coronavirus Business Update newsletter.

The day ahead

Opec decision Saudi Arabia and Russia are working towards a deal to cautiously release more barrels into the oil market in the coming months, as prices climb to the highest level in almost three years, but officials delayed a final decision on supply policy until Friday.

Euro 2020 quarter finals Thanks largely to the duo of Jorginho and Marco Verratti, Italy start Friday’s quarter-final against Belgium as favourites. Follow all our Euro 2020 coverage here and sign up to Scoreboard for weekly updates on the business of sport.

US jobs report Wall Street stocks wavered between modest gains and losses on Thursday as investors struggled to predict the US Federal Reserve’s next moves ahead of crucial jobs data today.

What else we’re reading

How Teneo’s master of the dark arts spun out of control Declan Kelly built the world’s premier CEO advisory firm but failed to survive his own reputational crisis. In the span of just six months, Teneo hit two crises of its own, costing both co-founders their jobs and casting doubt over the future of the consultancy.

‘Home in the World’ by Amartya Sen — citizen of everywhere The economist and human rights campaigner spoke with FT’s Edward Luce about his new book, his early life and his long battle for a fairer world. At age 87, Sen’s mind remains as sharp as when he won the Nobel memorial prize in economics in 1998. But his body is painfully frail.

The recruitment process is turning into ‘The Hunger Games’ We have long accepted that searching for a job is a full-time job in itself, but some companies are taking it to a whole new level that lasts months and often sees candidates ghosted or left hanging for weeks, writes Elizabeth Uviebinene.

The EU’s biomass dilemma A review of the bloc’s climate legislation is a not-too-subtle reminder that if the status of biomass, combustible pellets burnt for energy, is changed, it may be impossible for the EU to meet its target for renewables to provide a third of its energy usage by 2030 — and force it to confront the question: can burning trees ever be green?

Q&A: the Chinese Communist party at 100

Ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist party’s founding, James Kynge, FT’s global China editor, wrote about the party’s longtime struggle to reconcile growth and stability. We asked him a few questions about the greater meaning of the centenary. 

A screen in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square broadcasts a speech by President Xi Jinping during celebrations to mark the founding of the Chinese Communist party © Wang Zhao/AFP via Getty Images
A screen in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square broadcasts a speech by President Xi Jinping during celebrations to mark the founding of the Chinese Communist party © Wang Zhao/AFP via Getty Images

What’s the significance of the 100th anniversary of the party for President Xi Jinping? 
For Xi personally this represents a public affirmation of his rule and that of the Chinese Communist party (CCP), which he leads. These set-piece events may appear stilted to the west but in China they play very well. Reactions to a huge parade in central Beijing in 2019 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic was greeted by Chinese inside China and overseas with a surge of genuine pride.

How is Xi using the centenary to shape China’s image both at home and internationally? 
Defiance. Nationalism. Pride. These are the emotions that Xi knows will stir the crowds and they were the touchstones for his speech in Tiananmen Square on Thursday. He warned foreigners that any infringements on China’s sovereignty would be met by a “great wall of steel”. He added that China will not tolerate “sanctimonious preaching” from outsiders. He said unification with Taiwan remained an “unshakeable commitment” of the CCP.

What will the CPP’s biggest challenges be in the next 100 years?
One obvious challenge will be the succession after Xi. He shows no sign of grooming a successor and has abolished presidential term limits, setting himself up to rule until he dies. Another challenge will be making good on China’s territorial ambitions — taking over Taiwan, by force if necessary — and enforcing its claims to most of the South China Sea and a series of disputed territories. Suppressing free speech among a 400m-strong middle class also requires constant attention. 

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