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Cameron signals review of UK’s position on transparency initiative

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An ‘urgent review’ of the UK’s failure to sign up to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative will be on the agenda at this year’s G8 summit in Northern Ireland, David Cameron has revealed.

The prime minister told fellow G8 leaders that advancing trade, ensuring tax compliance and promoting greater transparency will be ‘at the heart’ of his agenda in June.

‘There are too many tax havens, too many places where people and businesses manage to avoid paying taxes,’ Cameron said last November. The summit would address the ‘growing problem … that some businesses and some individuals hide their taxes away and don’t pay them fairly’.

The UK assumed the G8 presidency this week. The Cabinet Office said the presidency would focus on strengthening international tax standards and working on greater international tax information exchange to tackle tax havens.

‘This will build on work that is already underway in the OECD and maintain the momentum set by the G20. And we will work with developing countries to enable them to collect tax that is due to them,’ it said.

Evasion and aggressive avoidance

Cameron said in a letter to G8 leaders: ‘[On] tax, we know that in a globalised world, no one country can, on its own, effectively tackle tax evasion and aggressive avoidance. But as a group of eight major economies together we have an opportunity to galvanise collective international action.

‘We can lead the way in sharing the information to tackle abuses of the system, including in developing countries, so that governments can collect the taxes due to them. We can work together to sign more countries up to the international standards. And we can examine the case for strengthening those standards themselves – whether by improving existing standards or looking at new ones.

‘These are complex questions, and will involve honest and detailed discussion about the right approach. But I do believe that as leaders, we all have a common interest in being able to tell our taxpayers who work hard and pay their fair share of taxes, that we will make sure others do the same.’


Cameron said he had ‘already signalled some important changes in the UK’s positions’.

He added: ‘For example, while the US has agreed to sign up to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, Britain and all the other G8 countries have yet to subscribe to this global process which helps to ensure that people around the world benefit from the extraction of natural resources from the countries in which they live. We need to change that. We cannot call on other countries to live up to these high standards if we are not prepared to do so ourselves. That is why I have asked for an urgent review of the UK position.’

The Commons International Development Committee recommended last August that the UK government should become a candidate for the EITI, which the UK itself founded in 2002. The committee also called on the government to require UK-based multinationals to report financial information on a country-by-country basis, and to encourage the OECD and other standard-setting forums to require filing of public statutory accounts in all jurisdictions.

Around 3.5bn people live in resource-rich countries, according to the EITI website, which adds: ‘Still, many are not seeing results from extraction of their natural resources. And too often poor governance leaves citizens suffering from conflict and corruption. The EITI was formed to change this.’