Remarks by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General, delivered at the 7th Meeting of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes Press Conference
29 October 2014, Berlin, Germany
(As prepared for delivery)
Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today marks a milestone in our collective pursuit to restore fairness and trust to our tax systems. We are modernising the international tax landscape to ensure that the owed amount of tax is paid. This initiative will not only boost public finances. It will also help restore public confidence in the tax system, a pivotal institution of the modern state.
The message coming out of today’s events is clear: the international community’s resolve is stronger than ever. By working closely together we have set new standards. We have translated them into commitments and then converted those commitments into concrete actions – all in record time.
Countries are moving towards automatic exchange of information in record time
We have seen that in the area of the automatic exchange of information alone: In a little over a year, the OECD, working with G20 partners, agreed a new standard in automatic exchange. The Standard was presented and endorsed by the G20 Finance Ministers at their meeting in September.
More than 90 jurisdictions have committed to implementing the Standard and 50 countries have signed an agreement to start exchanging information under the Standard as early as 2017. The signing of this agreement is a clear and concrete step, demonstrating that the world is rapidly becoming a much smaller place for tax evaders to hide!
Early results are promising. Even though the Standard is not yet in force, twenty-five countries have already identified additional revenue of 37 billion euros from voluntary disclosure programmes and other initiatives to combat offshore evasion.
But there is further work ahead
We now have a collective responsibility to ensure the widest possible adoption of this Standard so that all jurisdictions can benefit from it, OECD, non-OECD, large and small, developed and developing. Automatic exchange has the potential to benefit all countries, including developing countries.
We of course fully appreciate that developing countries may begin from a different base and we are engaging with them in a way that recognises this. The Global Forum last month presented the G20 with a Roadmap for developing country participation in automatic exchange. This includes tailored pilot programmes to get automatic exchange under the Standard up and running.
So the work does not end today. More needs to be done to make tax transparency a reality around the world. But given the progress we have made so far and the sprit shown here in Berlin I am very optimistic. Let us keep the good work and continue the fight against tax evasion!