Boris Johnson Talks Tax With Amazon’s Jeff Bezos

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has met with former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in New York this week.

The meeting took place at the UK diplomatic residence on 20 September, 2021 in New York City. The Prime Minister is currently in New York for high level meetings with world leaders at the UN General Assembly.

However, all eyes are on Washington DC, where leaders of the ‘Quad’ alliance (Australia, India, Japan and the United States) are to hold a high level meeting, in which the growing threat posed by China will be discussed.

AUKUS alliance

Boris Johnson is expected to attend the Washington DC meetings, because of last week’s historic announcement of a new security and defence alliance called AUKUS.

It is fair to say the world was caught by surprise by the landmark AUKUS agreement, that sees the US and UK for the first time agree to share their nuclear propulsion submarine technology with Australia.

This will allow Australia to build a fleet of at least eight nuclear-powered attack class submarines to counter the growing threat of China.

France is deeply unhappy at the move, as Australia has cancelled its delayed and overbudget contract.

The $90 billion contract was supposed to cost $20 billion, and would have seen France convert its existing nuclear-powered submarine into a less capable conventional powered submarine for Australia.

Australia has opted to exit the contract, as it is legally allowed to do, as the contract contains a number of exit paths if conditions are not met.

But AUKUS is not just about submarines.

Included in the agreement was the UK and US pledging to provide Australia with their expertise in underwater drones, cybersecurity (both defensive and offensive), AI and even quantum computing.

Taxation issue

Before heading off to Washington DC, the Prime Minister met with Amazon founder Bezos and his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez.

The Prime Minister is known for his environmental concerns, and they discussed discussed the billionaire’s recent pledge to give $1 billion towards environmental conservation.

This is part of the previously announced Bezos Earth Fund, which the Amazon founder started in February 2020 with $10 billion to help fund scientists, activists and non-profit organisations in the fight against climate change.

“The prime minister welcomed the Bezos Earth Fund’s commitment, announced tonight, to give $1 billion to protect forests and remove carbon from the air,” Downing Street told Yahoo News UK.

“The prime minister and Mr Bezos agreed to work together to see what more could be done in the run up to and at COP26.”

However the meeting also brought up the thorny issue of Amazon’s tax payments.

Amazon reportedly paid just £492 million ($673 million) in taxes to the UK in 2020 on a reported £4.85 billion ($6.6 billion) in sales.

“The prime minister raised the issue of taxation, and hoped progress could be in implementing the G7 agreement on tax,” an unnamed spokesperson from Downing Street reportedly said.

The G7 meeting in June in Cornwall saw the agreement of a new minimum global corporate tax rate.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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