02/10/2020 – Organised by the Global Forum Secretariat and held virtually from 30 September to 2 October 2020, the Africa Initiative’s 8th annual meeting brought together more than 150 participants from 27 African countries and 20 organisations. Representatives reflected on current challenges faced by administrations and highlighted the importance of exchange of information (EOI) and other forms of administrative co-operation in supporting domestic resource mobilisation in these challenging times.
The meeting’s Statement of outcomes recognises the Africa Initiative’s achievements and paves the way forward. With a new three-year mandate for the period 2021-2023, a restructured governance and a clear set of goals for the its capacity-building activities, the Initiative is expected to bear even greater rewards for its members.
Ms Maria José Garde, Chair of the Global Forum, praised the outcome of the meeting: “Over the past six years, through the Africa Initiative, African member countries of the Global Forum have demonstrated their commitment to transparency and exchange of information and considerable progress has been achieved. With the renewal of the Initiative and the leading role of member countries, I am confident that our joint efforts will significantly contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2063 Agenda of the African Union.”
Recent advances, such as Eswatini joining the Yaoundé Declaration or Botswana, Eswatini and Namibia signing the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance, point to a positive outlook for transparency and EOI in Africa. Automatic exchange of information (AEOI), though still very limited on the continent, is also moving forward with Nigeria due to start exchanging in 2020 and commitments from Kenya and Morocco to do so in 2022.
While acknowledging the need for further efforts to ensure political commitment remains high in the fight against tax evasion and illicit financial flows, the meeting allowed participants to take stock of the progress, discuss a broad range of topics and explore solutions to sustain the Initiative’s momentum. More specifically: (i) the impact of EOI in Africa based on key findings from the recently published Tax Transparency in Africa 2020 report; (ii) the impact of COVID-19 on the implementation and use of EOI in Africa; (iii) ways to remove the remaining barriers for tax transparency on the continent; (iv) recent developments in international taxation; (v) the role of cross-border assistance in tax collection and how it can complement EOI; (vi) the link between EOI and transfer pricing; and (vii) strategies to ensure African countries’ participation in AEOI.
Organisations represented at the meeting included the African Development Bank, the African Tax Administration Forum, the African Union Commission, the Federal Public Service Finance of Belgium, the Cercle de Réflexion et d'Échange des Dirigeants des Administrations Fiscales, the Economic Community of West African States, the European Union, the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany (BMZ), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the International Centre for Tax and Development, the International Monetary Fund, the Agency for Development Cooperation of Norway, the Norwegian Tax Administration, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OXFAM, Tax Justice Network Africa, the United Nation Economic Commission for Africa, the West Africa Tax Administration Forum and the World Bank Group.
The Global Forum is the leading multilateral body mandated to ensure that jurisdictions around the world adhere to and effectively implement both the standard of transparency and exchange of information on request and the standard of automatic exchange of information. These objectives are achieved through a robust monitoring and peer review process. The Global Forum also runs an extensive technical assistance programme to support its members in implementing the standards and help tax authorities make the best use of cross-border information sharing channels.
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