G20 Chengdu High-Level Tax Symposium - opening remarks


Remarks by Angel Gurría,

Secretary-General, OECD

23 July 2016

Chengdu, China



Ministers, Governors, distinguished guests,


Today we begin a dialogue which will expand our understanding of the tax policy tools available to meet our collective objectives of strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth.


You are all familiar with the success we have had over the past seven years to drive forward the tax agenda – our efforts are making a real impact to put an end to tax evasion, and shut the loopholes that facilitate tax avoidance.  With your leadership, the international tax landscape has changed dramatically. Since the financial crisis in 2008, it has become fairer as well as more coherent and effective. To the benefit of our citizens and of our public finance, already we have generated around 50 billion euros in additional revenues before the imminent start of the new automatic exchange of tax information in 2017. 


Building on this strong foundation, today’s symposium provides an opportunity to consider the role tax policy can play to drive innovation, promote inclusive growth, and encourage trade and investment. Tax policy has been, and remains, a sovereign issue. But our discussion here demonstrates the reality of the 21st century: talent, capital, and even physical infrastructure is increasingly mobile, and value creation is changing. The effectiveness of our domestic tax policies will be affected by what happens across our borders, and so a global conversation on these issues is critical.


Tax policy presents itself as a third pillar, after the work we have already developed on tax transparency and on BEPS. It is also an integral part of the G20 structural reform agenda that we have been collectively developing since the Pittsburgh Summit. Our most recent work in this area – including our just-released publication "Tax Design for Inclusive Economic Growth"– emphasises the need to look at tax and benefit systems holistically, as a siloed approach can overstate the trade-offs between efficiency and equity. Tax policy can play a role to encourage labour market participation, investment in skills, and provide incentives for individuals to save for their retirement. In our new approach to economic challenges, known as NAEC, we are considering how to reconcile the tax policy tools that promote growth with those which focus on greater inclusiveness.


I look forward to listening to the debates, and wish to share with our distinguished panellists a parting thought. At the OECD, we firmly believe, that one of our priorities as policy-makers must be to reconcile our world, our citizens with the realities of globalisation. More cross-border trade and investment, does not have to lead to more inequality. There are opportunities in the challenges, and we must ensure we seize them. The concept of equity in our policy choices, including in tax policy, should be broadly considered, recognising the impact of those choices on well-being over people’s lifecycles, and across generations and countries.


Let me close by thanking the Chinese Presidency, particularly Minister Lou, and his team of officials who have made this event possible, in co-operation with Germany. They have taken the initiative to launch this important debate at G20 level, laying the groundwork for a fruitful discussion today, into 2017 and beyond.


Thank you very much.



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