Google is willing to pay more tax globally says its chief executive Sundar Pichai, said at the World Economic Forum, as talk was on the tone of the “America First” speech that US president Donald Trump will deliver at the Davos summit in Switzerland.
Trump’s speech will likely underscore the “duality” of the US president’s personality, former White House aide Anthony Scaramucci said. Trump wants the US to be part of the global system, “but he doesn’t see that as going against being an America First leader”.
Google, along with Apple and Amazon and other US technology giants, has long been criticised for using tax structures in Ireland and in other EU states, to minimise the amounts it pays in tax to governments around the world.
“We are happy to pay more tax, whatever the world agrees to,” Pichai said.
However, he said the question was where Google should pay it. Critics have accused large US technology companies like Google of paying too little tax outside the US, despite deriving a large portion of their revenue from these other countries. Pichai said as Google hired more engineers globally — for instance, in France, where the company said this week that it would add more engineering and research staff — it would equalise the distribution of its tax payments across countries.
The programme of US corporate tax cuts unexpectedly secured by Trump under his America First election campaign pledge includes a reduced level of tax to encourage the tech giants to repatriate the many billions in taxable profits the US corporates hold overseas.
Also speaking at Davos, Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and the second- richest person in the world, said there’s a danger that Trump’s America First approach could damage the US’s longterm influence in Africa. Other countries such as China are continuing to push into Africa, and the US should not pull back, said Gates. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has spent about €9.8bn on global health projects in the last five years. In “the balance of hard power versus soft power, the US uniquely has a ratio emphasising hard power and I’d hate to see it go even further . You don’t want to give up your soft power tools,” Gates said.
Ahead of Trump’s speech at Davos his top economic advisers set the stage for the rollout of his America First manifesto on the world stage. US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin endorsed the dollar’s decline as a benefit to the US economy and commerce secretary Wilbur Ross said the US would fight harder to protect its exporters.
- Bloomberg and Irish Examiner