Improving the process in the harmful tax practices work

OECD Observer

The OECD is inviting jurisdictions identified as tax havens that are interested in co-operation with the OECD Member countries to endorse a collective memorandum of understanding designed to eliminate harmful tax practices.

The proposed collective instrument, agreed at a meeting of the OECD's Forum on Harmful Tax Practices in Paris, would be available as an alternative to bilateral agreements between the OECD and individual offshore jurisdictions. The OECD’s intention is that both processes should be equally open and transparent and proceed at the same pace.

Some 23 of the 35 previously identified jurisdictions have already contacted the OECD’s Forum on Harmful Tax Practices with a view to co-operating in the drive against illegal and unfair tax practices. Speaking at a media briefing in Paris, Bruno Gibert, Director of the International Taxation Division of the French Ministry of Finance and one of the Forum’s two co-chairs, said the OECD countries are "very pleased" with the response so far to the OECD’s initiative.

Several of these jurisdictions have made excellent progress on formal commitments to work with the OECD to address the issues raised by harmful tax practices. Others are also making good progress but may need more time to complete their commitments. In the coming months, the OECD will approach jurisdictions that have not yet contacted the Forum, with a view to seeking their co-operation as well.

Earlier this year, the OECD announced that Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Cyprus, Malta, Mauritius and San Marino had made commitments to co-operate with the OECD to fight harmful tax practices. The OECD has set a deadline of July 2001 for reaching similar agreements with other offshore jurisdictions. Failing such agreements, tax havens face the prospect of becoming targets of defensive measures on the part of OECD countries, possibly including the abrogation of bilateral tax treaties and enhanced auditing requirements for transactions between residents of OECD countries and persons or institutions resident in such unco-operative tax havens. Philip West, International Tax Counsel at the U.S. Treasury and the other co-chair of the Forum, emphasised, however, that the OECD’s objective is to avoid having to introduce defensive measures against any jurisdictions. "Our ultimate goal is to have a list of unco-operative tax havens with no names on it," he said.

With this in mind, the OECD announced plans for a conference on harmful tax practices in the Asia/Pacific region in February and said that it is examining plans for a similar conference in the Caribbean. The OECD will also invite representatives of jurisdictions that have already pledged to co-operate in combating harmful tax practices to a meeting in Paris in November to elicit their views on the subject of achieving effective exchange of information.

In parallel, the OECD is continuing to examine the problems posed by potentially harmful preferential tax regimes in its own Member countries. In June, the OECD announced a list of 47 such regimes. These are now being subjected to detailed examination to assist the commitments made by OECD countries in 1998 to eliminate harmful aspects by 2003.

©OECD Observer October 2000 

Economic data


Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Suscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To receive your exclusive print editions delivered to you directly

Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • Africa's cities at the forefront of progress: Africa is urbanising at a historically rapid pace coupled with an unprecedented demographic boom. By 2050, about 56% of Africans are expected to live in cities. This poses major policy challenges, but make no mistake: Africa’s cities and towns are engines of progress that, if harnessed correctly, can fuel the entire continent’s sustainable development.
  • “Nizip” refugee camp visit
    July 2016: OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría visits the “Nizip” refugee camp, situated between Gaziantep and the Turkish-Syrian border, accompanied by Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek. The camp accommodates a small number of the 2.75 million Syrians currently registered in Turkey, mostly outside the camps. In his tour of the camp, Mr Gurría visits a school, speaks with refugees and gives a short interview.
  • OECD Observer i-Sheet Series: OECD Observer i-Sheets are smart contents pages on major issues and events. Use them to find current or recent articles, video, books and working papers. To browse on paper and read on line, or simply download.
  • Queen Maxima of the Netherlands gives a speech next to Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto (not pictured) during the International Forum of Financial Inclusion at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico June 21, 2016.
  • How sustainable is the ocean as a source of economic development? The Ocean Economy in 2030 examines the risks and uncertainties surrounding the future development of ocean industries, the innovations required in science and technology to support their progress, their potential contribution to green growth and some of the implications for ocean management.
  • OECD Environment Director Simon Upton presented a talk at Imperial College London on 21 April 2016. With the world awash in surplus oil and prices languishing around US$40 per barrel, how can governments step up efforts to transform the world’s energy systems in line with the Paris Agreement?
  • Happy 10th birthday to Twitter. This 2008 OECD Observer interview with Henry Copeland said you’d do well.
  • The OECD Gender Initiative examines existing barriers to gender equality in education, employment, and entrepreneurship. The gender portal monitors the progress made by governments to promote gender equality in both OECD and non-OECD countries and provides good practices based on analytical tools and reliable data.
  • Once migrants reach Europe, countries face integration challenge: OECD's Thomas Liebig speaks to NPR's Audie Cornish.

  • Message from the International Space Station to COP21

  • The carbon clock is ticking: OECD’s Gurría on CNBC

  • If we want to reach zero net emissions by the end of the century, we must align our policies for a low-carbon economy, put a price on carbon everywhere, spend less subsidising fossil fuels and invest more in clean energy. OECD at #COP21 – OECD statement for #COP21
  • They are green and local --It’s a new generation of entrepreneurs in Kenya with big dreams of sustainable energy and the drive to see their innovative technologies throughout Africa.
  • Pole to Paris Project
  • In order to face global warming, Asia needs at least $40 billion per year, derived from both the public and private sector. Read how to bridge the climate financing gap on the Asian Bank of Development's website.
  • How can cities fight climate change?
    Discover projects in Denmark, Canada, Australia, Japan and Mexico.
  • Climate: What's changed, what hasn't, what we can do about it.
    Lecture by OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, hosted by the London School of Economics and Aviva Investors in association with ClimateWise, London, UK, 3 July 2015.
  • Is technological progress slowing down? Is it speeding up? At the OECD, we believe the research from our Future of ‪Productivity‬ project helps to resolve this paradox.
  • Is inequality bad for growth? That redistribution boosts economies is not established by the evidence says FT economics editor Chris Giles. Read more on
  • Interested in a career in Paris at the OECD? The OECD is a major international organisation, with a mission to build better policies for better lives. With our hub based in one of the world's global cities and offices across continents, find out more at .

Most Popular Articles


What issue are you most concerned about in 2016?

Euro crisis
International conflict
Global warming

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2016