ECOSOC Takes Action on AAAA’s Tax Mandate
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) adopted a resolution and decision on international cooperation in tax matters, as well as a decision on its working arrangements.

The documents were adopted in response to paragraph 29 of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD).

ECOSOC5 October 2016: The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) adopted a resolution and decision on international cooperation in tax matters, as well as a decision on its working arrangements. The documents were adopted in response to paragraph 29 of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD).

In the AAAA, Member States agreed to further enhance the resources of the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters, including by having it meet twice per year for four days each, and increasing the Committee’s engagement with ECOSOC through a special meeting on international cooperation in tax matters. Paragraph 29 also specifies that the Committee will continue reporting directly to ECOSOC, and Member States are urged to support the Committee and its subsidiary bodies through a voluntary trust fund.

On 5 October 2016, the Council adopted a resolution on tax matters (E/2017/L.5), by which it: emphasizes that the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters should enhance collaboration with other organizations working in international tax cooperation, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), as well as regional and subregional bodies; decides that one session of the Committee will be held in New York in the spring and another in Geneva in the fall, beginning in 2017; and stresses the need for adequate funding for the Committee’s subsidiary bodies.

Speaking at the resolution’s adoption, Thailand for the Group of 77 and China (G-77/ China) said the draft was submitted after more than seven months of discussion. The UK, for the EU, said adopting the package of texts allows ECOSOC to conclude consultations on implementing the agreement reached in the AAAA on enhancing the resources of the Committee of Experts. Japan joined the consensus based on recognition that the draft resolution will not cause any change to the substance of the AAAA.

The Council also adopted a decision on tax matters (E/2017/L.6), in which it: decides that the Committee’s 12th session will take place in Geneva, Switzerland, from 11-14 October 2016; approves its agenda, which includes items on profits from ships or aircraft in international traffic, taxation of development projects, extractive industries and international goods trade; and decides that the 13th session of the Committee will take place in New York, US, from 5-8 December 2016. The Council’s special meeting on international cooperation in tax matters will convene in New York on 9 December.

Finally, the Council took action on a decision on the working arrangements for the Committee of Experts (E/2017/L.7). Russia said it was not ready to adopt the decision, and proposed a “no action” motion. The Council held a vote on the “no action” motion, which was defeated with 38 against, three in favor, and one abstention. China had voted for no action, it said, because ECOSOC had failed to reach consensus on the draft decision. South Africa said the international community must ensure that commitments made in the 2030 Agenda and other agreements made in 2015 are met, underlining that some delegations did not support the mandate to work on tax matters.

Russia called for a vote on the draft decision, and it was adopted with 40 in favor, none against, and two abstentions. By the decision, ECOSOC: reaffirms that its annual forum on FfD follow-up (FFD Forum) will be dedicated to discussing follow-up and review of financing conference outcomes and means of implementation (MOI) of the 2030 Agenda; and decides its 2017 FfD Forum will take place from 22-25 May, and will include the special high-level meeting with the Bretton Woods institutions, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Speaking after the vote, Russia said ECOSOC has made the mistake of going beyond its mandate. [UN Meeting Coverage] [Resolution E/2017/L.5] [Decision E/2017/L.6] [Decision E/2017/L.7]

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