states tackle discrimination
expands membership amid growing concern over protectionism
by developed countries
a clear sign of growing concern over discrimination
by large, developed countries, two more small states
have joined the International Trade and Investment
Organisation to work for a level playing field in
the trade in services.
members The Isle of Man and St Vincent and the Grenadines
bring ITIO membership to 16 countries across Europe,
the Caribbean, Pacific, Latin America and Asia.
the ITIO’s meeting in Panama City last week,
high on the agenda was the preferential treatment
given to developed countries by the European Union
(EU), Organisation for Cooperation and Development
(OECD) and International Monetary Fund (IMF).
year, by promising a level playing field between members
and non-members, the (OECD) encouraged numerous small
countries – including most of the ITIO –
to agree to exchange tax information on request from
an expected EU directive on the taxation of savings
gives four OECD member states – Austria, Belgium
and Luxembourg and Switzerland – special treatment
by allowing them to defer exchanging information until
2011 or later.
EU’s protectionist initiative drives a coach
and horses through the OECD’s level playing
field,” said ITIO Chairman Glenroy Forbes, “The
OECD may need to rethink its plans.”
IMF’s approach to tackling money laundering
aroused further concerns. “We expect all countries
to be held to the same standards in combating the
scourge of money laundering, not one law for the big
and another for the small,” said Mr Forbes,
“The IMF must measure everyone with the same
ITIO meeting also deplored the decision taken by countries
both within and outside the OECD to blacklist some
ITIO members in apparent violation of international
law and trade rules, using OECD criteria. Members
noted with interest the countermeasures being developed
by Panama, such as not allowing firms from countries
operating blacklists to bid for government contracts.
NOTES TO EDITORS
The International Trade and Investment Organisation
(ITIO) met in Panama City on 15 March 2003.
The ITIO was founded in March 2001 and groups 16 small
and developing states across Europe, the Caribbean,
Pacific, Latin America and Asia. It works for a level
playing field in the trade in services, particularly
in the development and implementation of new regulatory
Members are Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas,
Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands,
Cook Islands, Isle of Man, Labuan (Malaysia), Panama,
St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent & the
Grenadines, Turks & Caicos and Vanuatu.
The Commonwealth Secretariat, Pacific Islands Forum
Secretariat, CARICOM Secretariat, Caribbean Development
Bank and Eastern Caribbean Central Bank have Observer
a Level Playing Field
The ITIO believes that all new international standards
should be developed using the following non-discriminatory
Get a full and fair picture
– When considering a new/revised standard, first
undertake benchmarking studies of existing ones in
all affected countries, developed as much as
Have a big tent –
Develop the new standards in a universal forum
in which all affected countries can participate equally.
Open the doors – Give
the proposed and final standards wide publicity and
hold transparent consultations with all stakeholders,
including the private sector.
Take a ‘big bang’ approach
– Don’t force one country to introduce
new international standards before another: everyone
should jump together.
Following pressure from ITIO members, the OECD accepted
references to a level playing field in all commitments
to their “harmful tax competition” project.
ITIO members then ensured that the OECD Global Tax
Forum’s Joint Ad Hoc Group on Accounts was opened
up to all jurisdictions that had made a commitment.
The ITIO has since worked to see that the Joint Ad
Hoc Group on Accounts operates a level playing field.
Last November saw a joint communiqué with OECD
members such as the United States, the UK, France,
Germany, Canada, Mexico and Japan which welcomed “an
enhanced sense of inclusive partnership amongst OECD
and non-OECD countries and territories, working together
to achieve common standards for transparency and effective
exchange of information for tax purposes”, and
agreed that “it is valuable to examine current
and developing standards and practices in all countries
and territories in taking this work forward to achieve
a level playing field.”
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