France calls for uniform financial rules globally

Sun Oct 19, 2008 4:33pm EDT
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QUEBEC CITY (Reuters) - French Prime Minister Francois Fillon, addressing his country's vision for reforming an unstable world financial system, called on Sunday for uniform rules that apply everywhere including in tax havens.

He sought to flesh out the call by French President Nicolas Sarkozy for a revamping or "refoundation" of capitalism, and he pointed out discrepancies in regulation around the world that can lead to the sort of turbulence now afflicting markets.

A Canadian government minister said on Saturday Canada would not go as far as France in saying a rethinking of capitalism was needed, but Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper did concur with France on Sunday that more was needed than country-specific reform measures.

"I do not believe that national regulation alone is sufficient," Harper told a news conference at the end of a summit of French-speaking nations.

He said the world must continue to take immediate steps to stabilize markets and prevent the collapse of banking systems but must also address the long-term need for more effective international financial institutions.

Fillon, addressing the same news conference, tried to correct what he thought was a misunderstanding of France's position. France has led the push for one or more international summits to confront the market turmoil.

"Nobody wants extra rules. Nobody wants protectionism. What we want is simply a regulation of the financial system that is coherent and consistent in all parts of the globe," he said.

"Today there are financial institutions that escape regulation. Certain banks aren't regulated at all. Today there are tax havens that avoid all rules. Today there are prudential rules that aren't the same from one country to another, from one continent to another. And that creates imbalances and competitive distortions."

(Reporting by Randall Palmer; editing by Todd Eastham)