Remarks by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General, G20 summit
St. Petersburg, 5 September 2013
(As prepared for delivery)
President Putin, Heads of State and Government, Ministers, Colleagues,
The emphasis that the Russian Presidency has placed on returning to appropriate levels of growth demands an acceleration of the structural reform agenda in all G20 countries. It involves a gradual normalization of the policy stance in advanced economies, while keeping in mind the spill-over effects; it has to address the still unacceptably high levels of unemployment and the growing inequalities; it will require continuous commitment by G20 members to keep markets open for trade and investment and for us to complete the repair of the financial sector.
This is where the tax agenda of the G20 kicks in as one of the most meaningful deliverables of the group:
Until 2009, it was impossible to obtain tax information from jurisdictions that had bank secrecy. Four years later, 120 jurisdictions are working together in the context of the Global Forum on Tax Transparency to make it possible. Over 1100 agreements to exchange tax information are now in place, delivering revenues.
Moreover, with your collective leadership and support, we are now preparing to migrate towards a new, more ambitious, single global standard: automatic exchange of tax information. 56 countries, including all G20 members, have already signed the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters, to move towards automatic exchange of tax information.
The other great task that you are undertaking is a far-reaching overhaul of international tax rules: the latter have not kept pace with the changing business environment, including the growing importance of intangibles and the digital economy. As you said, President Putin: “The G20 Action Plan on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS), developed with the support of the OECD, can be considered the most prominent step towards modernization and coordination of our countries’ tax policies in a hundred years.”
I am happy to inform you that all G20 countries have signed on to BEPS and are now members of the G20/OECD BEPS Project.
We are looking at ways to close loopholes in international tax rules that allow companies to artificially shift profits away from the countries in which they are generated. We are even considering the development of a new multilateral instrument to amend the existing network of more than 4000 bilateral tax treaties, so that we do not have to renegotiate them one by one.
The stakes for developing countries are just as high. They need support to mobilise their domestic resources. Thus, our initiative of “Tax Inspectors Without Borders.” Their participation will be critical to the success of our initiative, as will our cooperation with the UN, the IMF and the World Bank.
We can build an international tax system that is transparent, efficient and fair, that serves our economies, our governments and our citizens. The OECD is honoured to serve you in this endeavour.