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(LEAD) Bill Gates praises S. Korea in development report to G20 summit
By Chang Jae-soon
CANNES, France, Nov. 3 (Yonhap) -- Microsoft founder Bill Gates praised South Korea on Thursday for increasing assistance to developing nations as he appealed to world leaders to carry out their commitments to help needy nations.

   Assistance to developing nations is one of the key agenda items for a two-day summit of the G20 major and emerging economies opening in the southern French city of Cannes, though the meeting is overshadowed by the Eurozone debt crisis amid concern it could spill over to the global economy.

   South Korean President Lee Myung-bak is attending the summit as head of one of the "troika nations" that comprise the previous, current and future hosts of the global economic forum. Seoul hosted a G20 summit in November last year.

   Gates, who has been focusing on helping developing nations after retirement, presented a report to the G20 summit at the request of host French President Nicolas Sarkozy, calling for rich nations to do more to help less well-off countries grow together.

   In particular, Gates cited South Korea as an exemplary case in official development aid.

   "Countries outside the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) donate an estimated $18 billion, and I urge them to maintain ODA as a percentage of gross national income (GNI) as they grow," Gates said in the report. "South Korea has been a standout, pledging to almost triple its percentage of GNI devoted to ODA by 2015."

   The so-called development agenda has also been an issue of concern for Lee. During last year's G20 summit in Seoul, Lee led the adoption of the "Seoul Development Consensus for Shared Growth" that calls for advanced economies to help developing countries achieve their maximum growth potential in various areas.

   In the report, Gates also proposed introducing special taxes or raising existing ones on financial transactions, tobacco and international aviation and shipping to raise funds for development projects.

   If introduced, the financial transaction tax, which calls for collecting a 0.1 percent tax on stock trading and 0.02 percent on bond trading, could raise US$48 billion a year, and part of the money could be used for development projects, Gates said in the report.

   But the prospect of agreement on the financial transaction tax is dim as developed countries with advanced financial systems, such as the United States, Britain, Canada and Australia, are opposed to the initiative.

   Gates also proposed that G20 countries and European Union countries raise the tobacco tax to 70 percent from the current average of 55 percent and levy taxes on fuel for aviation and maritime shipping and use the proceeds to help needy nations.