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DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - French President Jacques Chirac outlined bold proposals on Wednesday for an international tax to help fight AIDS (news - web sites), saying such a measure could raise $10 billion each year.
"I propose today moving forward through the creation, in an experimental way, of a levy to finance the fight against AIDS," Chirac told the World Economic Forum (news - web sites) in Davos in a speech delivered by video link-up.
Chirac said the levy could be imposed on international financial transactions without hampering markets, but it could also be raised by taxing fuel for air and sea transport, or levying $1 on every airline ticket sold in the world.
"It would allow us to mobilize $10 billion a year," he said.
The French leader's radical proposals upstaged British Prime Minister Tony Blair (news - web sites), who was due to address the forum's opening session later on his plan for reducing global poverty, although Chirac was careful to endorse the British plan.
His ideas are likely to meet strong opposition from the United States and most other rich nations, as well as financial markets and airlines, but will be popular with anti-globalization campaigners and AIDS awareness groups.
Chirac insisted the proposed tax on financial transactions was not a new version of the tax first proposed by Canadian economist James Tobin to combat speculative capital movements.
"The international solidarity levy would be designed so as not to be an obstacle to normal market operation. It would be based on three main requirements:
-- a very low rate, of a maximum of one ten-thousandth
-- applied to a fraction of international financial transactions, which represent some $3 trillion per day
-- the levy would be based on cooperation between the major world financial markets, so as to avoid the effects of evasion."
As an alternative, he said states that maintain bank secrecy could be asked to partially compensate for the consequences of world tax evasion through a levy on flows of foreign capital in and out of their country.
Chirac's options for taxing kerosene or airline tickets seem bound to face hostility from the aviation industry, already facing tough business conditions due to high oil prices and tightened security measures since the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
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