Judith Freedman, Pinsent Masons Professor of Taxation Law, visited Hong Kong in March for the Oxford Asia Alumni Weekend and whilst there also gave a talk at HK University’s Faculty of Law, organised by the Taxation Law Research Programme (TLRP) and the Asian Institute of International Financial Law. Judith explained her topic: “I lectured on the tension between the need governments feel to engage in tax competitiveness in order to encourage growth and investment and the worldwide pressure to reduce what is perceived to be tax avoidance at an international level.” In the UK and elsewhere in Europe, as well as the USA, focus on austerity means businesses that try to escape paying revenues are exposed to media and public scrutiny. At the same time, corporation tax rates are falling worldwide and many governments are seeking to keep their tax systems competitive. Judith explained: “It is not clear that the BEPS programme, (OECD Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Action Plan) which seeks to address these concerns, will be able to resolve these tensions. If it is to succeed in its aim of preventing such jurisdictions from taking unilateral action, then it must address the needs of developing countries and the BRIC countries including the PRC.” She added: “The PRC therefore, has a major role to play in the process.” The talk will be written up in a joint article for publication with HK university representatives.
The lecture was chaired by Richard Cullen (Chair), Visiting Professor, Faculty of Law, HKU. Other panel participants were Wilson Chow, Associate Professor Faculty of Law, HKU; Andrew Halkyard, Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Law, HKU; Doreen Qiu, Dongmei, Post-Doctoral Fellow in PRC and International Tax Law, Faculty of Law, HKU.