Opening Remarks by Angel Gurría
Paris, 1 June 2015
(As prepared for delivery)
Minister Cáceres, Ambassador Francisco Galindo Yélez, ladies and gentlemen,
I am delighted to welcome you this afternoon for the signing of the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters, the most powerful single instrument for international tax co-operation.
Today’s ceremony sends yet another strong message to the international community of El Salvador’s commitment to fighting international tax avoidance and evasion by increasing transparency. This builds on the first major step, taken in 2011, when El Salvador joined the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information.
Restoring trust in institutions and strengthening the rule of law are the overarching objective of the OECD’s tax transparency work, and countries are increasingly moving from bilateral to multilateral cooperation to achieve this.
Today, El Salvador becomes the 86th jurisdiction to participate in the Convention, joining all G20 countries and, importantly, all major financial centres, with the exception of Panama. You are the 8th Latin American country to join, and the third member of the Central American Common Market, after Costa Rica and Guatemala. The Convention is a truly global instrument that provides a comprehensive multilateral framework for such co-operation, including assistance in tax collection.
The Convention also provides the ideal instrument to swiftly implement the new international standard on automatic exchange of financial account information. And, the Global Forum Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) Group is already working to ensure that El Salvador can benefit from the new AEOI Standard when it is ready to adhere. We are already seeing a real impact as two dozen countries have identified over 37 billion euros from voluntary compliance initiatives introduced before the first accounts are identified under automatic exchange starting in 2017 and 2018.
As an added benefit, information obtained under the Convention for tax purposes may be relevant for others, such as pursuing serious financial crimes like corruption and money laundering. Provided certain conditions are met, the information can be used in this way, thereby further underpinning the rule of law.
Let me conclude by congratulating you on signing the Convention. We look forward to its rapid entry into force so that El Salvador can seize this opportunity to build trust in its institutions and reinforce the rule of law.