The Use and Interpretation of Tax Treaties in the Emerging World: Theory and Implications

British Tax Review, No. 4, 2008

41 Pages Posted: 26 Sep 2008

Date Written: September 24, 2008


Certain parts of the international tax system are largely unexplored from a structural perspective. One prominent example is the asymmetric tax treaty network, i.e. the network that consists of bilateral tax treaties concluded between developed and emerging countries on the basis of the OECD Model Tax Convention on Income and on Capital (OECD model). The relative size of this network is substantial. For instance, the United Kingdom's asymmetric tax treaty network represents about 72 per cent of its entire tax treaty network.

This article offers a structural analysis of the asymmetric tax treaty network. It answers two fundamental questions. First, it elaborates a theory for explaining why a representative emerging country is willing to conclude tax treaties with developed countries on the basis of the OECD model. Secondly, this article extends that theory to understanding the dynamics of tax treaty interpretation in the emerging world. This extension aims to illuminate the structure of incentives the courts of a representative emerging country normally have when construing OECD-based tax treaties in the foreign direct investment (FDI) area. Game theory is used as a theoretical framework for answering both questions.

Keywords: International Taxation, Transfer Pricing, Tax Treaty Abuse, Tax Treaty Interpretation, Assymetric Tax Treaty Network

Suggested Citation

Baistrocchi, Eduardo A., The Use and Interpretation of Tax Treaties in the Emerging World: Theory and Implications (September 24, 2008). British Tax Review, No. 4, 2008, Available at SSRN:

Eduardo A. Baistrocchi (Contact Author)

London School of Economics - Law School ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

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