ROME – President Joe Biden and leaders of some of the world’s wealthiest nations opened their first in-person summit in two years on Saturday with an agenda that includes discussions on two of the world’s most pressing matters: the global economy and the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden arrived at the modernist, cloud-shaped convention center in Rome where the Group of 20, or G-20, is meeting and was welcomed by Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi. A few minutes later, he joined other leaders for a traditional “family photo.”
G-20 leaders are expected to formally endorse sweeping changes to the international tax system and adopt a global minimum tax. The changes are intended to make sure large corporations pay their fair share and keep them from stashing profits in lower-tax jurisdictions.
Nearly 140 countries already have agreed to adopt a global minimum tax of at least 15%. But Saturday’s meeting would mark the first time the tax has been officially backed by G-20 leaders, who represent more than 80% of the world’s gross-domestic product and 75% of global trade.
Biden is pushing a 15% minimum tax on corporate earnings to help pay for his ambitious package of climate change and social safety net proposals.
Global health concerns also will be on the agenda for Saturday’s session. G-20 leaders are expected to explore ways to prevent another pandemic like COVID-19, which has killed nearly 5 million people worldwide, including more than 743,000 Americans.
In addition, Biden will meet on the sidelines with three European allies – German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson – to chart a path forward on negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.
Biden’s advisers have been trying to revive a 2015 agreement that limited Iran’s ability to enrich uranium to weapons-grade levels. Then-president Donald Trump withdrew from agreement in 2018.
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Saturday’s meeting will give Biden an opportunity to closely coordinate with the U.S.’s European partners on a joint negotiating position.
Ahead of the summit, Biden held separate meetings in Rome on Friday with Pope Francis and Macron.
Michael Collins covers the White House. Follow him on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS.