Ahead of his talk this week at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Colombian Finance Minister Jose Antonio Ocampo announced today his country’s intention to organise the first Latin American summit on global tax rules.1 The summit, which the Finance Minister will discuss in his Davos talk on Thursday, is expected to be held in Cartagena in July this year and will see Latin American countries for the first time discuss positions and proposals on global tax rules as a bloc. The summit was welcomed by renowned economists and a joint statement by civil society organisations from the region and beyond.2
Colombia has increasingly played a key leadership role among Latin American countries on tax. In addition to adopting progressive tax reform at home, Colombia was the first Latin American country to announce3 its support in September 2022 for a UN tax convention, which the UN General Assembly unanimously voted in November 2022 to begin negotiations.4 The UN tax convention will move rulemaking on global tax from the OECD, a small club of rich countries which has dictated global tax rules for the last sixty years, to the UN’s more inclusive and democratic forum.
The Latin American summit on global tax rules is seen as an opportunity to bring together and strengthen a Latin American position in relation to the negotiations. A bloc of African countries proved pivotal in 2022 in bringing the proposal to begin negotiations on a UN tax convention to the UN General Assembly, despite reports of unprecedently aggressive lobbying from the OECD to block the proposal.5
Welcoming the summit, Liz Nelson, director of tax justice and human rights at the Tax Justice Network, said:
“We welcome the Colombian government’s call to organise the first Latin American summit on global tax. Our global tax system is our most powerful tool for making the world a fairer, greener and safer place, but for decades this system has been programmed to prioritise the desires of the richest and most powerful over everybody else. The summit is an opportunity for Latin American governments to break from the past and set out a vision for reprogramming tax to give equal weight to the needs and human rights of all members of society.
“For the first time in sixty years, countries around the world have an opportunity to have a real say on global tax rules now that negotiations are underway to move rulemaking on global tax from the rich countries’ club at the OECD to the UN. Intergovernmental discussions this year will be crucial in setting the path for this new era of international tax. It is vital that countries in each region of the world follow the African leadership that underpinned last year’s success in opening negotiations at the UN, and engage together to generate common positions on an ambitious agenda. The summit announced by the Colombian government is a very important step in the right direction.”
The Colombian Finance Minister’s announcement comes on the heels of an Oxfam report6, for which the minister wrote a foreword, that revealed that almost two-thirds of new wealth amassed since the start of the pandemic has gone to the richest 1 per cent. Minister José Antonio Ocampo wrote in his foreword:
“Taxing the wealthiest is no longer an option – it’s a must. Global inequality has exploded, and there is no better way to tackle inequality than by redistributing wealth.”
Image credit: © Inter-American Dialogue
Notes to editor
- Read Colombian Finance Minister Jose Antonio Ocampo’s announcement here. View the official website for the summit here.
- Read ICRICT’s statement featuring comments for renowned economists here. Read the joint civil society statement in Spanish and English. The statement is signed by: Oxfam, Latindadd, Red de Justicia Fiscal de América Latina y el Caribe (the Latin American and Caribbean Tax Justice Network), Iniciativa por Los Principios de Derechos Humanos en la Política Fiscal (the Initiative for Human Rights Principles in Fiscal Policy), Red de Trabajo Fiscal (the Fiscal Work Network), the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Tax Justice Network.
- Watch the Colombian Finance Minister’s announcement in September 2022 at the Tax Justice Network’s and Global Alliance for Tax Justice’s event of Colombia’s support for a UN tax convention, and their plans to encourage Latin American consensus.
- The UN General Assembly adopted by unanimous consensus in November 2022 a resolution that mandates the UN to set course for a global tax leadership role.
- More information on the role of the Africa group and the OECD’s unprecedentedly aggressive lobbying is available here.
- More information about the Oxfam report, published on 16 January 2023, is available here.