Commonwealth & OECD Working Group Concludes First Meeting

The multilateral Working Group established by Commonwealth and OECD countries in Barbados earlier this month has completed its first meeting. Participants described the talks as “frank and constructive in spirit” and have agreed to continue discussions on ways to achieve global co-operation on cross-border tax matters.

Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur and Australian Ambassador to the OECD Tony Hinton were co-chairs of the Working Group meeting, held January 26-28 at the Commonwealth Secretariat’s headquarters in London.

Preliminary discussions centered around participants’ understanding of the scope of the remit from the High Level Consultations in Barbados on 8-9 January and initial proposals on how work can be taken forward. The meeting identified a number of areas of agreement in relation to the need for dialogue and co-operation on tax matters with cross-border implications.

Although reaffirming their objective of reaching an agreement as rapidly as possible, participants acknowledged at the conclusion of deliberations that “further work is needed to achieve a mutually acceptable political process and the creation of a truly inclusive global tax forum”.

The members of the Working Group are Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Barbados, the British Virgin Islands, the Cook Islands, France, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, Malta, the Netherlands, Vanuatu and the United Kingdom. Along with ministers and senior finance and tax officials from these 13 countries or associated territories, others participating in the talks included representatives of the Commonwealth Secretariat, the OECD Secretariat, CARICOM Secretariat, and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.