Observations from the KPMG ASPAC Conference in Beijing

Observations from the KPMG ASPAC Conference in Beijing

Grant Wardell-Johnson shares some insights from the KPMG ASPAC Conference in Beijing, and highlights on China's 15 Action Plan.

Leader, Australian Tax Centre

KPMG Australia

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The Great Wall of China

The KPMG ASPAC Conference held recently in Beijing was a great success. It was titled New Tax Paradigm – Time to Act.

The Greek etymology of ‘paradigm’ is beyond and show. Pascal Saint-Amans, in comparing where the Organisation for Economic Development (OECD) was in 2006 with now, certainly showed us how much we had moved beyond ten years ago. Moreover, he challenged us to think about where we would be in 2026. He postulated that it would be a far less complex tax world. But I think this was said avec une touche d'ironie humoristique.

During the ASPAC Conference China's 15 Action Plans were revealed. These are different from the OECD's 15 BEPs Action Plans. I am not sure why we tax people have an obsession with the number 15. The role of the ‘market’ in transfer pricing is the key focus on the Revenue authorities. This will be a challenge for the future in many different ways.

It is clear that communication to stakeholders, reporting to the Board and dealing with the media is becoming a permanent feature of the practice of taxation. It was also observed that large multinational enterprises are increasingly involved in tax policy. But not enough.

I personally feel that if business were more assertive on the need for mandatory binding arbitration, for instance, we would be in a better place than we are currently: facing a future world that is likely to see a proliferation of disputes.

The last plenary session by Dr. Keyu Jin looked at China’s puzzles, paradoxes and policy dilemmas arising from the ‘economic miracle’. Her closing words contained a message relevant to China’s institutional and political framework but were also relevant to how we tax practitioners face the world. She quoted from The Leopard by Giuseppi Tomasi di Lampedusa. This book is largely set in Sicily in the 1860s and deals with the challenge to the ‘old order’ arising from the Italian Risorgimento. The oft-quoted line is “[i]f we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change”.

A short summary of key insights and observations from the ASPAC Conference is now available.
 

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