Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General
Good morning Ministers, Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I am very pleased to be here with the Chair of the Ministerial Council Meeting and Finance Minister of Norway, Sigbjorn Johnsen, to welcome the important step each of you is taking in joining the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters. Now, more than ever, countries need to work together closely to ensure that everybody, whether individuals or corporations, pays their fair share of taxes.
This Convention is the most comprehensive multilateral instrument available for all forms of tax co-operation, and for tackling tax evasion and avoidance, a top priority for all countries. It allows, among other things, automatic exchange of information, simultaneous tax examinations and assistance in the collection of tax debts. It is therefore no coincidence that it has the strong support of the G20, and that more and more countries are joining the Convention.
Furthermore, the Convention provides a legal basis for the standardized multilateral automatic exchange model being developed at the OECD with G20 partners, and complements initiatives such as the peer review process of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes.
I am particularly pleased with the wide range of countries represented here today: OECD and Council of Europe countries, major financial centres, such as Singapore, and several developing countries. Developing countries have so much to gain from joining this ever-widening network of countries that can help them fight tax evasion, which robs them of scarce domestic resources so urgently needed to foster growth and improve the lives of their citizens.
We have 9 countries here today who are signing the Multilateral Convention, 2 countries who are signing a letter of intent to sign the Convention and 6 who are depositing instruments of ratification. Your actions demonstrate the commitment of your government to fight tax evasion and improve tax compliance globally.
What a historic moment for the Convention! In less than 2 years since the amended Convention entered into force, over 40 countries have signed the Convention and several more have stated their intention to do so. Today marks an important milestone on our road to closer cooperation and more transparency. Thank you all for that.
I will now hand over to Minister Johnsen to say a few words.