STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
FIFTY EIGHT SESSION
OF THE UNITED NATIONS
PANEL DISCUSSION ON
"INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION IN TAX MATTERS"
20 OCTOBER 2003
ladies and gentlemen,
is my pleasure to Chair this Panel Discussion on International
Cooperation in Tax Matters. International cooperation in
tax matters has commanded the attention of the international
community for decades now, but requires further focus in
the context of financing for development. This Panel discussion
is therefore both important and timely, coming as it does
on the eve of the High-level dialogue on Financing for Development.
I therefore wish to commend the Financing for Development
Office for its cooperation in organising the Panel.
United Nations decision to take up the matter of tax cooperation
- for which its predecessor organisation, the League of
Nations had a fully constituted Fiscal Committee - coincided
with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's
(OECD) publication in 1967 of its draft model tax convention
for treaties between developed countries. Through its Ad
Hoc Group of Experts on International Co-operation in Tax
Matters, and its predecessor Ad-hoc Group of Experts on
Tax Treaties between Developed and Developing Countries,
the United Nations has continued its active participation
in international tax matters.
thrust of the United Nations work in tax co-operation has
been in the area of policy advice and capacity building
for the negotiation of bilateral tax treaties. It has, in
that regard, provided a framework within which member states,
both developed and developing, might approach bilateral
and other initiatives in this area. I wish to make specific
reference to development and updating of the Manual for
the Negotiation of Bilateral Tax Treaties between developed
and developing countries, published in 1979, and Model Double
Taxation Convention between Developed and Developing Countries,
published in 1980, and to the several Interregional Training
Workshop on International Taxation which have been convened
under the auspices of the United Nations.
the International Conference on Financing for Development,
held in Monterrey Mexico, in March 2002, Heads of State
and Government underscored that mobilisation of domestic
resources is a crucial step, if we are to fulfil internationally
agreed development goals, eliminate poverty, improve social
conditions and raise the living standards of all our peoples.
Taxation is one of the major instruments of domestic resource
mobilisation, and its regulation is of interest to all states.
now seriously consider what is required to progress rationally
and systematically in respect of international co-operation
in tax matters. It seems logical that a matter affecting
countries at large, developed and developing, does not lend
itself to solutions devised in limited membership, special
interest bodies. If a set of universal standards, principles
and norms are to be developed in respect of tax cooperation,
which take into account the role of tax matters in mobilising
resources for sustainable development, then such principles
and standards must be set in a truly universal organisation.
There must be an institutional framework through which developed
and developing countries can participate actively, and equally,
in determining outcomes in this important area.
topics selected for consideration by this Panel Discussion
takes into account the broad range of issues impacting on
cooperation in tax matters - Globalisation, investment,
trade and tax competition; The tax treatment of cross border
interest income, capital flight, money laundering and tax
evasion; and improved intergovernmental institutional framework
for international cooperation in tax matters, focussed on
enhancing resource mobilisation for development.
distinguished panellist can be expected to provide invaluable
insight into these issues. May I say, Panellist, that I
look forward, with interest, to hearing your perspectives
on issues including capital flight, improvement in the institutional
framework for international tax cooperation, including the
establishment of mechanism within the United Nations, and
enhancing resource mobilisation, including the creation
of an environment conducive to financial resource mobilisation.
urge our other participants to engage the Panellist in a
frank and open exchange of views. I ask you to bear in mind,
in that regard, that the presentations, comments and observations
are intended to provide crucial and substantive inputs into
the deliberations that will take place during the High-level
Dialogue. Importantly, we expect the outcome of this Panel
Discussion to inform the conclusions and recommendations
of the High-level Dialogue. I do hope that at the end of
our deliberations, we would have a clearer understanding
of our options, institutional and others that might be exercised
to ensure genuine cooperation in tax matters.