Reducing the Barriers to International Trade in Accounting Services: Why it Matters, and the Road Ahead
49 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2008
Date Written: May 2000
Accounting has been a lead sector in the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)negotiations to reduce barriers to trade in professional services. This is no accident. Accounting already has a substantial international component; the largest accounting firms have major international presences and have been eager to operate in less restrictive environments. Accountingis coming to be understood as a vital infrastructural element of financial services, and as finance becomes more global, accounting too should become more global. Similarly, as large businesses enterprises generally have become more international, their need for more international accountingservices has grown. But, despite the considerable international presences of the major accounting firms, virtually all countries maintain various types of restrictions that impede the flow ofaccounting services across borders. The consequences have been higher costs, poorer service to clients, and reduced efficiency, as well as lower quality accounting/auditing standards in many countries. Substantial progress can and should be made to reduce the current barriers to freer trade in accounting services.
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