Dear Ministers, Colleagues,
Welcome to the 2020 meeting of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes. Today’s impressive turnout – about 700 participants from more than 130 jurisdictions and organisations, including a dozen Ministers and State Secretaries and close to 20 Tax Commissioners – reflects the importance of this work.
Together, we have achieved a lot! Last year, we celebrated the Global Forum’s 10th anniversary. The Forum’s membership has grown from 89 in 2009 to 161 today, and the global implementation of the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) has led to the end of bank secrecy.
The Global Forum’s work is critically important today as we navigate the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis. When we met a year ago, we could have hardly imagined that we would be facing a global pandemic leading to nearly 1.5 million deaths and counting; a global economic contraction of 4.2% in 2020; an interruption of global value chains; and a global business and employment crisis.
International co-operation on tax policy will be crucial to confront and defeat the virus, and also to build back better. The world is counting on the Global Forum’s continued success. In fact, I often refer to it as the first “big bang” of global taxation. Almost 12 years after the G20 Leaders’ call to end bank secrecy, the Global Forum continues to deliver on its mission.
In 2020, you have yet again accomplished impressive results. Let me highlight some examples:
First, your work is helping jurisdictions ensure the fairness of their tax systems, so that everyone pays their due taxes. Global implementation of the automatic exchange of financial accounts information covers 7,000 bilateral relationships. In 2019, information was exchanged on more than 84 million bank accounts, totaling almost 10 trillion EUR in assets. And the 2020 figures will likely be much higher.
The results from tax revenues are also impressive. 107 billion euros of additional tax revenues worldwide have been identified through voluntary disclosure programmes, offshore tax investigations and related measures since 2009.
Second, you have delivered peer reviews of the AEOI legal frameworks for the first 100 jurisdictions committed to AEOI. The findings of the “Peer Review of the Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information 2020” report, published today, show an outstanding compliance level of 88%. The next step, which is already underway, is reviewing the effectiveness of these exchanges.
Third, the Global Forum’s capacity building work was expanded to ensure that all members benefit from AEOI, particularly developing countries, which are disproportionately affected by tax evasion and avoidance. Sixty-eight jurisdictions have received assistance. Political commitments have remained strong, with good progress under the Africa Initiative and the Punta del Este Declaration, as well as the launch of a new Pacific Initiative.
All these efforts have been made possible through generous donor support, and close co operation with international organisations and regional partners. They are reinforcing the inclusive spirit of the Global Forum, which is critical given the challenging global context.
Over the past decade, the Global Forum has revolutionised tax policy. Transformative work is now underway to ensure that the Forum remains significant in the face of unprecedented challenges. As we forge ahead, the OECD remains committed to working with the Global Forum to ensure a strong, resilient, green and inclusive recovery.
I wish you all fruitful discussions and lively debates.
Minister Sitharaman, the floor is yours.