Developing countries and the automatic exchange of information standard - a "one-size-fits-all" solution?
Recently, the Organisation for Economic Co‑operation and Development (OECD), at the invitation of G20 countries, developed what it refers to as the new single global standard for the automatic exchange of information (AEOI) between key revenue authorities worldwide. This standard, if adopted by a country, would require the annual AEOI relating to financial accounts obtained from financial institutions and exchanged in a common reporting format or standard. Theoretically, the adoption of the AEOI standard on a global scale would equip all countries to address the illicit flow of money to locations which result in tax avoidance and other forms of non‑compliance. However, the success of the AEOI standard relies on countries to be able to first, collect and supply the information required and second, effectively use and benefit from the information provided to them. This means that such an adoption places an onerous administrative burden on a country and this is arguably especially the case for developing countries which do not have the same level of administrative resources and intellectual capital as developed countries.
Studies have revealed that developing countries support the AEOI and view it as an opportunity to address illicit financial flows. However, the implementation of such a regime, according to the OECD, requires a sound legal framework, technical know‑how, infrastructure and personnel capacity. Consequently, developing countries are most concerned about the lack of capacity to: (1) collect the information locally to allow full reciprocal information exchange; (2) analyse the information received; and (3) deal with information technology. The purpose of this article is to critically analyse the OECD’s AEOI standard and assess the standard from the perspective of developing countries and emerging economies, including Global Forum members. It does so with the aim of revealing the “unique” administrative and enforcement issues which may arise for those countries and offering possible solutions. These possible solutions offered adopt a case study approach to the Asia‑Pacific region.