China pilot-tests UNCTAD's Accountancy Development Toolkit

04 July 2012

A stakeholder meeting in Beijing last Friday (29 June) discussed the results of China's pilot test-run of the Accountancy Development Toolkit developed by UNCTAD. Participants confirmed the usefulness of the toolkit and the assessment exercise for China.

The Accountancy Development Toolkit (ADT) aims to provide guidance to decision-makers in identifying gaps and setting priorities for drawing up accounting development policies in a manner that would strengthen national accounting infrastructure, help create an enabling investment environment, and contribute to financial stability and economic growth. It is based on quantitative indicators which help assess a country's regulatory, institutional and human capacity for high quality corporate reporting and to benchmark it against international requirements, standards and codes.

The Beijing stakeholder meeting was co-organized by UNCTAD and China's Ministry of Finance. It was attended by key Chinese stakeholders in the area of corporate reporting, including the Accounting Regulation Department of the Ministry of Finance, a pool of government regulatory departments, large-scale enterprises, representatives of the accounting profession, academia and major accounting firms. UNCTAD was represented by Ms. Tatiana Krylova, Head, Enterprise Branch, Division on Investment and Enterprise.

Similar exercises are also taking place in Brazil, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Mexico, Russia, the Netherlands, South Africa and Viet Nam.

The valuable feedback provided by participants at the Beijing meeting and elsewhere will assist UNCTAD in further refining the ADT in preparation for the 29th annual session of the Intergovernmental Working Group of Experts on International Standards of Accounting and Reporting (ISAR) which will take place from 31 October to 2 November 2012, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

One of the central features of UNCTAD’s work on corporate transparency and accounting has been the servicing of ISAR. Established by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in 1982, ISAR is the only intergovernmental working group devoted to corporate transparency and accounting issues at the corporate level. ISAR addresses a variety of issues in corporate accounting and reporting with a view to improving the global comparability and reliability of corporate reports.

Since its creation, ISAR has assisted developing countries and economies in transition countries in implementing international standards and requirements, and sharing best practices in corporate reporting and disclosure to facilitate investment flows and economic growth.

Over the years ISAR has developed a number of guiding documents in the area of accounting and reporting that contributed to international harmonization of reporting requirements and practices. During the last three years, it has focused on developing through UNCTAD the Accountancy Development Toolkit in close consultation with other international bodies, such as the World Bank, International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO), as well as with national organizations of UNCTAD member States in the area of accounting and reporting.

In the aftermath of the financial crisis, ISAR's role has significantly increased as successive G20 meetings have highlighted the need for convergence towards a single set of high quality global accounting standards as one of the key factors in strengthening the international financial regulatory system and global financial stability.