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G20 heading in the right direction

By Alasdair Roxburgh | 7 November 2011

Over the last 10 months you've been campaigning with us for an end to tax haven secrecy, which allows tax dodging to thrive and costs poor countries an estimated $160bn each year.

G20 campaign actions hand in to President Sarkozy in ParisIn this time you've taken over 21,000 actions calling on the UK Government and French President Nicolas Sarkozy to prioritise tackling tax haven secrecy when they met at the G20 this November.

These were added to tens of thousands of other actions from other campaigners from around the world who joined your calls as the End Tax Haven Secrecy campaign grew to more than 50 organisations in over 20 countries.

This all came to a culmination last week when, just 24 hours before the G20 met in Cannes, when your postcards and a letter with the total number of actions was handed to President Sarkozy in Paris.

From this point on we had to wait and listen to what was coming out of the G20 meeting. Given the events of the past few weeks in Europe it was not surprising that the Eurocrisis took centre stage - but tax havens were not ignored, in fact quite the opposite.

Results of the meeting: 

The worst offenders 'will be excluded from the international community'
Nicolas Sarkozy

  • A step towards one of our key calls for greater tax transparency has been made: the G20 members agreeed to sign a convention that will allow the exchange of tax information between them. They will also consider making information available automatically on a voluntary basis.

    This means we are now much closer to our calls for Automatic Information Exchange, which will help combat tax secrecy.

  • The G20 listed 11 tax havens that have failed to deliver on tax transparency. French President Sarkozy said the worst offenders 'will be excluded from the international community'.

  • David Cameron called for principles to govern matters such as tax transparency in the global economy.

All of this is really positive news and much more than we hoped for just a few months ago. As campaigners you should take great credit for what has been achieved. Not only have we kept tax havens on the agenda, but we have helped ensure moves have begun to be taken to help tackle tax haven secrecy.

What still needs to be done?

However, we didn't get everything we wanted. Steps have been taken towards Automatic Information Exchange, but we're not there yet. Above all, we need it to apply to all countries - including tax havens - to ensure tax dodgers have nowhere to hide. It is essential that information is exchanged automatically if developing countries are to benefit.

As for multinational companies' transparency, the G20 summit failed to endorse country-by-country reporting for companies (our other key ask). However they did say that multinational companies need to be more compliant and transparent in their dealings with poor countries.

What next?

Well - we are very much heading in the right direction. Tax haven secrecy is on the G20 agenda and they are taking it seriously. But they can do much more to end it.

Next year the G20 will be heading across the Atlantic to Mexico and we must ensure Mexico uses its G20 presidency to take the decisive action on tax secrecy G20 leaders shied away from in Cannes.

We'll update you in early 2012 on how you can take part and ensure tax stays on the agenda. In the meantime, you can help us shape the next stage of our tax campaign, targetting FTSE companies, by sharing your campaign ideas:


Share your ideas

As well as campaigning to the G20, we've also been urging some of the UK's biggest firms - Unilever, Vodafone and TUI Travel - to back our calls for greater financial transparency.

Share your ideas How would you make multinational companies listen? Help shape the next stage of our campaign by sharing your ideas

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 About the author

Alasdair Roxburgh

Alasdair Roxburgh is our churches campaigns manager