Building Trade Infrastructure with China and Asia Pacific Countries

VAT/GST challenges for businesses, governments and researchers

Date: 6 September 2013

Venue: Lecture Theatre 2, Rutherford House

Speaker: Associate Professor David White

Seminar overview

Associate Professor David White talked about his research carried out in the Asia-Pacific region in 2012 on the Asia-Pacific VAT/GST research and stakeholder network gaps and possible ways of addressing these challenges.

In June 2013 a New Zealand ministerial task force was formed to review all risks in the New Zealand-to-China supply chain. Trade Minister Tim Groser asked all agencies ‘to reflect carefully on their own long-term strategies’ and proposed increased investment in the ‘infrastructure’ of the China-New Zealand trade relationship. Tax law and practice are a key trade risk. In New Zealand’s trade relationships with China and a large number of Asia-Pacific countries, major tax risks are VAT/GST and other sales taxes on goods and services. These taxes form the largest single source of central government revenue in China, as they do in many low and middle income countries in the Asia-Pacific. They have growing importance to state-building and good governance throughout the region.

The VAT/GST is a young tax first implemented in Europe in the 1950s. It is a ‘legal transplant’ in the Asia-Pacific: still being implemented in China 30 years after small initial steps in 1984; adopted fully in New Zealand in 1986; and adopted in most other Asia-Pacific countries except, most notably, in the USA, Malaysia (and India). This seminar seeks to identify major VAT/GST challenges for businesses, governments and researchers in the region and to discuss some work currently being undertaken by these three groups and its possible impact on New Zealand and its businesses.

The seminar was chaired by Robin Oliver, MNZM, Director, Oliver Shaw, and former Deputy Commissioner of IRD. John Cantin and Marie Pallot gave business advisor and official perspectives on the topic respectively.

About the speaker

Associate Professor David White is currently developing an Asia-Pacific VAT/GST research project. He initiated the ‘Comprehensive, single standard-rate GST/VAT project’, which has commemorated and studied the design and implementation of NZ GST and its relevance for other countries (2005 onwards). He is a member of an international, multidisciplinary group which compares VAT/GST regimes and approaches to current problems and assesses their impact (2010-14). He was a member of the Tax Working Group that reviewed the medium-term policy options for NZ’s tax system (2009-10). He was a commentator on VAT and Excises for the Mirrlees Review of the UK tax system (2005-11). Previous work history: Chief Analyst, Tax Policy Branch, NZ Treasury (1987-2000); diplomat, NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including posting to NZ Mission to UN, Geneva, Switzerland (1976-83).