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ITIO Calls For Consistency From OECD

by Amanda Banks,, London

25 October 2001

Following the fourth meeting of the International Tax and Investment Organisation (ITIO) earlier this month, member countries of the Organisation, a grouping of small and developing economies (SDEs), called for a consistent approach from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The ITIO met to discuss tax, e-commerce, trade, and security issues in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks, and although they agreed that there was a need for greater transparency within the international community, they asked the OECD to ensure that there would be a 'level playing field' in terms of information exchange, with larger industrialised countries complying with the same strict standards set for the SDEs.

ITIO members expressed concern over the sanctions threatened by the OECD for countries that failed to make the required changes to their taxation systems, arguing that any action could constitute a non-tariff barrier to trade in services, which would go against existing multilateral trade obligations.

They also expressed fears that e-commerce service providers exporting from small and developing countries would be adversely affected by planned EU and OECD initiatives, and asked for more consideration on this issue.

After the meeting, the Director of the ITIO Secretariat, Lynette Eastmond, expressed the organisation's sympathy for the victims of the attacks, and solidarity with the international fight against terrorism, vowing that: 'We are determined to cooperate fully with the United States and the coalition against terrorism...We will continue to work with other free and democratic governments to cut off terrorists' access to funds.' However, in a clear barb at politicians and the international media, who have scapegoated the offshore world somewhat since the attacks, she added: 'There is no automatic connection between countries with low or zero tax rates and terrorism.'

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