The Group of 20 finance ministers meeting in South Korea have decided not to push for an international bank tax to protect against financial sector meltdowns.


South Korean Finance Minister Yoon Jeung-hyun speaks to reporters at a meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors. ((Jo Yong hak/Reuters))

Instead, participants ending two days of talks in Busan on Saturday said they agreed that a range of policy alternatives should be considered.

The move is considered a victory for Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who has been a vocal opponent of the tax proposal from the International Monetary Fund.

The plan had won support from the U.S. and many European countries, including France, Britain and Germany.

However, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has repeatedly said a global bank tax is not necessary for Canadian financial institutions, given the relative strength and stability of banks in Canada.

Canada is pushing for regulation, rather than taxation, and advocating tighter controls over the kinds of high-risk investments that have resulted in massive taxpayer bailouts in many countries.

Others opposed

Opposition to the tax also came from G20 members such as Japan, Brazil, China and Australia.

Yoon Jeung-hyun, South Korea's minister of strategy and finance and host of the meeting, acknowledged that debate over some issues — especially a possible universal tax on banks to help pay for bailouts — was heated.

"It was apparent that most G20 members do not support the concept of a universal levy," Flaherty said Saturday.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the group is ready to move ahead on stronger capital reserve requirements for banks and limits on indebtedness to help financial institutions weather future crises.

The world's G20 and G8 political leaders will meet in Ontario near the end of June.  

With files from The Associated Press