16/10/2003- 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.
For more information on the Forum