CENTRES WORKING TOWARD ‘LEVEL PLAYING FIELD’
22 October 2003
The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP),
a leading international body, is calling on the Organisation
for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to
end its tax blacklist and improve market access for
all financial centres.
their just ended two-day meeting in Canada, the OECD
and a group of international finance centres agreed
to work on achieving a global level playing field
and, on this basis, to continue their dialogue on
tax information exchange.
of the non-OECD centres made it clear they remained
committed to dialogue despite the OECD’s admission
that a level playing field does not currently exist
and that its absence is unfair. Richard Hay, co-chairman
of STEP’s International Committee, made the
call following the meeting held last week in Ottawa,
said they had welcomed the outcome of the meeting.
“But we are pleased that OECD and non-OECD finance
centres will now work together to secure a level playing
field for regulation of financial services,”
“The OECD is to be commended for recognising
the crucial importance of a level playing field amongst
all financial centres. OECD must now consider eliminating
tax blacklists and work to secure open access to markets
by all finance centres,” he said.
is concerned that tax blacklists by OECD member states,
which discriminate against non-OECD finance centres,
are becoming increasingly common, although “offshore”
centres within the OECD escape such discrimination.
example, a new law introduced by the Portuguese government
discriminates against traditional offshore companies
but explicitly gives exemptions to those in booming
OECD ‘offshore’ centres like Delaware,”
Ottawa, OECD participants agreed that a sub-group
would work over coming months on developing proposals
for achieving a global level playing field. The Commonwealth
Secretariat has been given a key role and will host
the first meeting of the new level playing field working
Global Forum is due to meet again in April 2004. The
importance of the level playing field is highlighted
in the second edition of a major report issued today
by the International Trade and Investment Organisation
(ITIO) and Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners
OECD Global Tax Forum, a meeting of the OECD and other
finance centres took place on October 14 and 15 in
to the closing statement by the co-chairs, “virtually
all participants... agreed that the level playing
field is fundamentally about fairness”.
also said that participants recognised that a global
level playing field does not yet exist and that further
progress could and should be made to achieve it. In
particular, they agreed that ways should be explored
to involve significant financial centres that are
not currently participating in the Global Forum process.
international finance centres invited to the Global
Tax Forum are those who have committed to the OECD’s
principles of transparency and exchange of information
(on a level playing field basis).
level playing field principles are: universal participation
in setting new rules; same implementation timetable;
and same sanctions for non-co-operation. The Society
of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) is the professional
body for the trust and estate profession worldwide.
STEP members come from the legal, accountancy, corporate
trust, banking, insurance and related professions,
and are involved at all levels in planning, creating,
managing and accounting for trusts and estates, executorship,
administration and related taxes.
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