The Joint Chairs of the latest meeting of the OECD’s Global Forum on Taxation issued a joint “Closing Statement” today at the conclusion of the session in Ottawa.
On 14-15 October, the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency hosted a meeting of the OECD Global Forum on Taxation. The meeting brought together representatives of 40 OECD and non-OECD governments that are committed to the principles of transparency and effective exchange of information for tax purposes.
The meeting was chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister of the Cook Islands, the Honourable Dr. Terepai Maoate, and Mr Gabriel Makhlouf, Chair of the OECD’s Committee on Fiscal Affairs. The focus of the meeting was on how to achieve a global level playing field and how to improve further the process by which this initiative can be taken forward based on the widely accepted principles of equity and shared responsibility.
Virtually all participants reaffirmed their commitments to the principles underlying the exchange of information standard and acknowledged the need to continue their discussions to establish bi-lateral mechanisms for effective exchange of information. They agreed that the level playing field is fundamentally about fairness.
Participants acknowledged that progress had been made but recognised that a global level playing field does not yet exist and that further progress could and should be made to achieve it, so that all countries can reach the high standards which the participants wish to see achieved. In particular, they agreed that ways should be explored to involve significant financial centres that are not currently participating in the Global Forum process. An important part of the process would be to review what standards financial centres currently apply and where further progress might be required.
Participants agreed to work intensively over the coming months to progress the global level playing field issue and the broader question of improving the process by which this work can be accomplished. A small group of participants will be established to develop proposals for consideration by the Global Forum for achieving a global level playing field and a process by which this work could be taken forward. The group would first develop for approval by the Global Forum a draft terms of reference for its work which would cover all of the issues raised in the meeting (see attached agenda). Once this is agreed upon by the participating partners the group would begin its work with the aim of reporting back to the Global Forum in April 2004. The Commonwealth Secretariat offered to host the first meeting of this new group.
Participants noted that the Joint Ad Hoc Group on Accounts established in the Cayman Islands would continue with its work with the aim of reporting to the next meeting of the Global Forum.
The participants expressed their gratitude to the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency for hosting the meeting.
The Meeting was opened by the Deputy Secretary General of the OECD on the 14th. In introductory remarks, he pointed out that in today’s global market, interdependency is a fact of life – and that this interdependence brings mutual opportunities but also mutual responsibilities. *”Many of the countries represented here today have benefited from the favourable conditions presented by the spectacular growth in international financial markets. Participation in international markets also brings with it the responsibility to combat abuses of the open financial market system, whether these practices concern terrorist financing, money laundering, or tax evasion.”*
The Deputy Secretary General emphasised that efforts of the Global Forum on Taxation were not about one country acting as a tax collector for another. Rather, *”it’s about international cooperation and good international relations between neighbours.”*
The Global Forum attempts to provide a framework within which acceptable international standards on transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes can be developed. It points to the success it has had in jointly developing the Model Agreement on Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, which some countries already have used in bilateral arrangements, and the good progress in developing accounts requirements through the Joint Ad Hoc Group on Accounts.
The primary function of this latest meeting was to discuss how the Global Forum can further advance this co-operation, including efforts towards the goal of a level playing field.