The OECD’s Unfinished Job
June 09, 2016

The OECD’s Unfinished Job

Switzerland effectively activated automatic exchange of information with 29 countries. Activation agreements are signed with another eight countries and waiting to be confirmed by Parliament. But where do the other countries stand – in particular the numerous so called Early Adopters of the OECD’s Common Reporting Standard? The Swiss Bankers Association’s Jakob Schaad tried to find out, then got lost, and ultimately discovered Pascal Saint-Amans’s unfinished business.

On the May 31, 2016 the Swiss Parliament’s National Council approved the revised Savings Tax Agreement with the European Union. In doing so, the National Council followed the Council of States, Switzerland’s upper Chamber of Parliament. With these confirmations the Swiss Parliament effectively introduced automatic exchange of information (AEOI) with the EU according to the OECD’s Common Reporting Standard (CRS). An equivalent agreement with Australia was approved the same day.

This is a major step. Switzerland now effectively has AEOI agreements with 37 countries – either approved or signed. Given this achievement by humble and supposedly not-so-rapid Switzerland, I wondered where the rest of the world was standing. In particular, I was interested in the many self-declared “Early Adopters” who promised to start gathering data on January 1 this year and exchanging it from next year on.

Pondering how to find out, I remembered a conversation I had while ago with the OECD’s Pascal Saint-Amans and with the Global Forum’s Monica Bhatia: the OECD would closely follow who exchanges data with whom and put it on its website.

Lost in Implementation

Eagerly and impatiently, I went on the OECD’s website…and got lost for almost an afternoon.

I found a very useful page with an interactive map of the global network of agreements on information exchange upon demand. But I could not find anything like it on the global network of AEOI agreements. I found a page reporting where the countries stand with the formal requirements for introducing AEOI, to be fair. But there is nothing about actual activations of AEOI between countries – which is the proof of the pudding of really implementing it.

Pascal Saint-Amans’s Unfinished Business

The OECD could just have a look at Switzerland’s State Secretariat for International Financial Matters’ web page on AEOI agreements. It could use it to start a matrix, showing who will actually automatically exchange data with whom. The Swiss banking sector would wholeheartedly support such nudging toward implementation. And it would be great for the world because it would show who actually implements AEOI beyond making promises and formal preparations.

The OECD’s and Global Forum’s job on AEOI is only done once there is a comprehensive actual network of AEOI. That job still remains to be finished as testified by the missing link on the OECD’s website.