French President Chirac Proposes International Financial Transaction Tax To Raise Funds To Fight HIV/AIDS
French President Jacques Chirac on Wednesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, proposed a global tax on international financial transactions to raise $10 billion annually to fight HIV/AIDS, Reuters reports (Hirschler, Reuters, 1/26). Chirac said that options for raising more money for the global fight against HIV/AIDS could come from a tax on international financial transactions, aviation and maritime fuel or capital movements in and out of countries that "practic[e] banking secrecy," according to AFP/Yahoo! News. Chirac also proposed that a "small" tax, such as one dollar, be tacked onto the cost of every one of the three billion airline tickets sold each year (AFP/Yahoo! News, 1/27). Chirac said that the funding could be raised "without hampering markets" and could be used to provide antiretroviral treatment to more HIV-positive people in developing countries, support HIV prevention campaigns and contribute to research on an HIV/AIDS vaccine, according to Reuters (Taylor, Reuters, 1/26). "What is striking about these examples is the disproportion between the modest efforts required and the benefits everyone would reap from them," Chirac said (AFP/Yahoo! News, 1/27). Chirac called on leaders from the Group of Eight industrialized nations -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States -- to debate his proposals in July at the G8 summit in Scotland, which will be hosted by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, according the AP/Forbes (AP/Forbes, 1/26). Chirac also said that decisions on plans to fight disease, reduce global poverty and implement the Millennium Development Goals should be made at the United Nations summit in September, according to Reuters.
Reaction, Blair Speech
Chirac's proposals likely will meet "stiff opposition" from the United States and other developed countries, as well as from airlines and financial markets, Reuters reports. Some HIV/AIDS advocates criticized Chirac's proposals as "not well thought through" and unlikely to gain political support from other developed countries, according to Reuters. Simon Wright, HIV/AIDS policy adviser at the U.K. organization Action AIDS, said, "The governments need to get their heads together, particularly the G-8, and work out how they are going to do it" (Taylor, Reuters, 1/26). However, Richard Feachem, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, "welcomed" Chirac's ideas, saying the money raised could bring antiretroviral treatment in developing countries to a "new level" after a "strong but modest start," according to Reuters (Hirschler, Reuters, 1/26). Chirac's "radical" proposals "upstaged" Blair, who spoke to the forum on his plans for reducing global poverty, according to Reuters (Taylor, Reuters, 1/26). Blair and Chirac called on governments and corporations to form partnerships to reduce poverty and solve crises in developing countries, particularly in Africa, according to the Los Angeles Times (Rotella, Los Angeles Times, 1.27).
Entertainers Call for More Effort in HIV/AIDS Fight
The World Economic Forum also served as a "chance for Hollywood to interact with business executives," as U.S. actors Richard Gere, Angelina Jolie and Sharon Stone, as well as Irish musician Bono -- founder of the AIDS, debt and trade organization DATA -- called on developed countries to do more to fight HIV/AIDS, the Washington Times reports (Borowiec, Washington Times, 1/27). "I don't have your education, but I have traveled a lot and seen AIDS in the face," Stone told the forum on Wednesday, adding that she favors "safe sex" and hopes the Pope will "change his mind" and endorse condom use to prevent the spread of HIV. Gere called on the private sector, media, actors and governments to do more to fight HIV/AIDS in developing countries, according to ANSA. "Are we or aren't we brothers and sisters?" Gere asked, adding, "Together we can save millions of lives" (ANSA, 1/26).
APM's "Marketplace" on Wednesday reported on Chirac's proposal. The segment includes comments from Jagdish Bhagwati, professor of economics at Columbia University; Laurie Garrett, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations; and Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University's Earth Institute and special adviser to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (Palmer, "Marketplace," APM, 1/26). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.