Opening Bell: EU report calls US a tax haven, UK/EU trade deficit hits a new high, the contactless future

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The European Parliament's Green group has called on the European Commission to add the United States to its list of tax havens.

This is the latest in a number of incidents signaling an increase in tensions between the EU and the US over tax reforms - the European Parliament’s special committee on taxation will visit Washington next week.

The report claims that anonymous companies can be set up in at least 14 US states.

It says that these regions "behave like tax havens" and do not oblige banks or other financial institutions to provide information about the beneficial owners of companies and trusts.

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The UK's trade deficite with the EU hit a record high during the first quarter of 2016, ahead of the Brexit vote.

Figures from the UK's Office for National Statistics show that the gap between Britain's imports and exports widened by £0.7bn (€0.89) to £23.9bn (€30bn).

'Leave' campaigners have argued that the size of this trade deficit will encourage EU countries to grant the UK access to the single market if it decides to go.

The figures show that EU imports have remained constant at 54% of all goods coming into the country between 2000 and 2015 - but the proportion of UK exports going to EU nations has fallen from 60% in 2000 to 47% last year.

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The number of contactless card payments made across Europe has nearly tripled in a year.

Three billion transactions have been made in the last 12 months according to Visa Europe.

In 2013 one in 60 payments were contactless, this number has grown to more than one in five today. 

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IBEC says the uncertainty around whether or not the UK will leave the European Union is having a knock on effect on retailers here.

The employer's group is releasing its new monitor for the first quarter of this year - which has found growth is beginning to stagnate. Supermarkets, convenience stores, and petrol stations are all said to be struggling.

Retail Ireland Director Thomas Burke says the vote in Great Britain and Northern Ireland is already having an impact: