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El foro global de la OCDE

By Carlos Ernesto González Ramírez

Pubished on La Prensa 





 The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) consists of a group of developed nations, -other countries have no access unless they are invited- whose objective is the economic development of its member states. To this end, this organization has been studying ways to mitigate the negative impact that international competition has on its partners’ interests. Among what they identify as harmful are financial centers outside of its borders and tax competition (fundamental tool for economic development of modern nations, including those of the OECD).


In 1998, the group published a study, Harmful Tax Competition, which stated that globalization and technology were affecting financial centers within their borders, because the ones they call off shore represented unfair competition. The arguments of efficiency and disloyalty of their competitors were sustained by pointing out what little regulation is applied to them, compared with their highly-regulated (and therefore more expensive) centers, and the lower or nonexistent tax levels. Therefore, they had to pressure these countries (not members of their club), to comply with such regulations and exchange tax information, although these did not represent any benefit to them and, on the contrary, would end up destroying their financial centers.


At first they wanted to show that the issue could be handled with objective criteria, but when they tried to define what was a tax haven, they realized that under any objective definition, its most important members also have to be labeled as such. Given this reality, they decided to change tactics and make subjective lists and avoid objective definitions. This also allowed them to create new criteria for alleged international tax cooperation standards.

To give overtones of “legitimacy” to their efforts, they summoned non-members to become part of a “forum” that would assign responsibilities that participants would accept (the so-called Global Forum on Transparency and Tax Information Exchange). Obviously, as objective criteria are dangerous for them, they neither made a full-fledged international organization nor articles of incorporation were established. Moreover, they have not published their rules anywhere. Thus, since they do not exist in the legal world, they could coerce countries to participate, bypassing traditional democratic processes. That is, they would become members of a forum that has no objective rules, which criteria is controlled by the OECD and would not require formal approval, as an international treaty.


To further control the useful fools dazzled by a little meeting at the OECD, they invented a “Peer Review” of the compliance with shifting standards of the “members” country (no rules, again). With that name it would seem that those who attend the forum also participate in the peer review, but it turns out not to be the case. This review is done by a group of 30 selected countries: 15 OECD (half), eight high-tax jurisdictions (such as Argentina and Brazil), four current colonies of members of the organization (the only ones with regimens similar to Panama), and three with undefined positions.


For the above reason, for example, when checking the existence of bearer shares in the UK, this country simply states that it has them, but that it is of no significant impact or relevance (with 15 votes plus the colonies, the OECD members have secured their passage through the review). In my opinion, any decent country should refuse to participate in this farce, unless, previously, it was constituted as an international organization and its creation was approved in a way required by the constitution: the National Assembly (in the case of Panama).

In fact, officials involved in these meetings do not have legislation supporting them, which can end up in the deviation of power, given that public officials can only do what the laws allow them to do. Therefore, until there is a treaty establishing clear and objective rules for all participants, which has been approved by the National Assembly, the Ministry of Economy and Finance must refrain from participating in this mess.


It is the responsibility of the country to respect the international standards established and developed through formal essential procedures. It is through international law that small countries have the ability to defend their interests. This should be the position that must be communicated to the OECD and the only legitimate one for any government.

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