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In a breakthrough which escaped almost everybody’s attention, a group of countries have agreed to share information with each other about their residents’ tax and financial information. The exchange will be automatic, electronic and multilateral, and includes countries which are responsible for more than 90% of global financial services exports. Agreement from the US is a major step, or will be if it is ratified and implemented; and the remaining step is to ensure developing countries are fully included.
Avoiding dangerous climate change is possible, technologically and economically. That is one of the main takeaways from the report released Tuesday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on cost-effective ways to mitigate climate change. That report is the third of four constituting the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the IPCC. The first, on the science behind climate change, was released in September 2013; the second, on the current and future impacts of climate change, was released earlier this month. A synthesis report is set to be published in October.
The long-anticipated rebasing of Nigeria’s GDP series was finally made public on Sunday April 6, and the general media reaction has been cautiously celebratory. But the reaction has largely missed one big point: the rebasing establishes that the biggest economy in Africa has the lowest tax revenues of almost any country in the world.
The African Development Bank estimates that illicit financial flows have drained in excess of a trillion dollars from Africa since 1980. These flows undermine the tax base, damage political institutions and exacerbate inequality. With major momentum behind global counter-measures, there are clear opportunities for progress at the regional level – including through stronger information exchange and cooperation, tax base harmonization and innovative uses of trade data.
CGD’s Europe Beyond Aid initiative explores how the individual and collective policies affect the developing world and how they could be improved. Using the Commitment to Development Index (CDI), it combines the scores of the 21 European countries that feature in the Index and calculates a consolidated score.
1. Tell us a bit about your work with the Center for Global Development
CGD is a ‘think and do tank’ established in Washington, DC in 2001, doing rigorous research with the aim of producing policy proposals to improve the development impact of (or reduce the damage done by) rich countries. I work for CGD Europe, based in London, as a research fellow leading on illicit financial flows, and continuing to dabble in inequality.
One of the first things we all learn as development rookies is that you cannot simply transplant institutions, systems or ideas from elsewhere. We are told that solutions have to be organic, locally-developed, country-owned and relevant to the context. But why and when is this true?
The UK Secretary of State for International Development has made a big speech emphasising economic growth. That's good, but it is a shame that it is all about how DFID will use its aid budget, and makes no mention of all the other things that Britain can do to improve the prospects for growth and prosperity in the developing world.