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Towards a Level Playing Field,
second edition.

Report undertaken by Stikeman Elliott on behalf of the ITIO and STEP.


30 April 2002

ITIO welcomes OECD agreement on level playing field framework

The International Tax and Investment Organisation (ITIO) and its members held two days of discussions with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation (OECD) and its member states at a meeting organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat in St Lucia on 24 and 25 April 2002. Participants in the talks also included the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank.

Speaking afterwards, Lynette Eastmond, Director of the ITIO Secretariat, said, "We are glad that, in the next phase of discussions between the OECD and ITIO members, the OECD has agreed to work with ITIO members towards elaborating a framework for establishing a level playing field."


Commonwealth meeting

1. In order to address the challenges and prospects facing small countries' international financial services sectors, the Commonwealth Secretariat convened a meeting on 24-25 April in St Lucia, "A New Partnership for International Financial Services: Prospects and Challenges". The meeting was chaired by Winston Cox, Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General and hosted by the St Lucia Government.

2. Numerous senior officials from Commonwealth countries, multilateral organisations (including the OECD and ITIO) and donor bodies gathered to discuss concrete proposals about the specific needs of small and developing countries in meeting international standards where these exist, diversifying their financial services sectors and promoting the overall development of their economies.


3. Some 31 small and developing economies (SDEs) identified unilaterally by the OECD as "tax havens" have committed to working with the OECD to develop new international standards for transparency and effective exchange of information.

4. In letters to the OECD, members of the ITIO and other jurisdictions have made it clear that their commitments are offered on the basis that they consider the establishment of a level playing field among all OECD member countries - and also non-member jurisdictions - to be essential.

5. Seven SDEs (Andorra, Liechtenstein, Liberia, Monaco, The Marshall Islands, Nauru and Vanuatu) have refused to make this commitment. Along with OECD members Switzerland and Luxembourg, who have abstained from the OECD initiative, they may be subjected to "coordinated defensive measures" by OECD countries after April 2003.


6. The International Tax and Investment Organisation (ITIO) is a grouping of small and developing economies (SDEs) set up in March 2001 to help SDEs respond to global tax and investment challenges. It explicitly considers the development implications of these challenges. (See

7. The ITIO currently comprises Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cook Islands, Labuan (Malaysia), St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, Turks & Caicos and Vanuatu. The Commonwealth Secretariat, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, CARICOM Secretariat, Caribbean Development Bank and Eastern Caribbean Central Bank have observer status.

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