In her first overseas phone call, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and her UK counterpart discussed co-operating to end the CCP virus pandemic, support a robust economic recovery, and tackle international tax issues.
Yellen stressed the importance of Washington’s transatlantic partnerships and their shared priorities “to end the pandemic and support a strong global recovery,” and in “fighting inequality.”
Both Yellen and Sunak agreed “that our number one priority continues to be supporting businesses, individuals and families through this crisis,” according to the UK statement.
The official COVID-19 death toll is currently around 100,000 in the UK, the highest in Europe and one of the highest per capita in the world. A surge in cases came as Johnson started a mass vaccination program to vaccinate 15 million people by mid-February and pledging almost £300 billion ($411 billion) to help the economy.
The relationship between the UK and the new U.S. administration is still evolving in other areas.
U.S. President Joe Biden has not yet formally announced a specific plan to visit the UK on a state visit. However, he will be in the country in the summer when it hosts the G7 summit.
Yellen and Sunak agreed to commit to addressing the tax challenges of “efficiently and equitably taxing the income of multinational firms” and seek “to reach a global solution on tax challenges created by digitalisation of the economy.”
On Jan. 14, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office under the Trump administration added Austria, Spain, and the UK to a list of countries that discriminate against U.S. digital companies such as Facebook and are inconsistent with international tax principles.
The Trump administration published results of a “Section 301” investigation into countries’ digital taxes, but at the time took no immediate action.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement, “The best outcome would be for countries to come together to find a solution.”
The Biden administration has not indicated whether it will act on the reports but is seeking to engage with allies on a range of economic and trade issues.
Yellen also made a call this week with French Minister of Finance Bruno Le Maire.