Conference: "Currency Transactions Taxes: From Feasibility to Implementation", Vancouver, October 4 - 6, 2001

Conference Summary
The citizens-led anti-globalization movement is in its ascendancy, yet risks its credibility if it is unable to articulate an agenda of alternatives to the current economic paradigm. At NGO conferences around the world over the last two years, debate has expanded beyond a critique of the existing economic paradigm and systems to the articulation of the "world we want". One critical component of an emerging vision of global equity and justice, supported by a growing number of non-governmental organizations, unions, Parliamentarians and academics around the world, is the currency transactions tax or CTT.

Halifax Initiative intends to contribute to the development of a viable alternatives agenda by hosting an international conference, "Currency Transactions Taxes – From Feasibility to Implementation" in Vancouver in October, 2001. The conference will bring together leading members of the academic, non-governmental, institutional and political communities from around the world to evaluate, critique, debate and discuss the use of currency transactions taxes to control destabilizing currency speculation and to develop multifaceted political and public engagement strategies.

The conference is an attempt to broaden the dialogue beyond the narrow range of banking, institutional and political actors and interests currently represented in discussions to reshape the "global financial architecture" in the wake of the Asian, Russian, Brazilian and subsequent financial crises. As such, this conference is part of a growing movement toward popular education, coalition-building and the democratization of global economics which is being carried out by activists, citizens, academics and Parliamentarians around the world.

The global movement in support of currency transactions taxes is at a pivotal point in its development, as the issue moves further into mainstream political and social thinking. By bringing together acknowledged world leaders including economists, political scientists, grassroots and international organizations, union leaders, multilateral institutional representatives, and elected officials from countries around the world, the conference is designed to catalyse a new phase of activities leading to the adoption and implementation of currency transactions taxes. A final conference declaration will be produced reflecting areas of consensus as well as an agenda for further research and development.

Conference goals
"Currency Transactions Taxes – From Feasibility to Implementation" will provide a forum to:

  • Raise public awareness on how the increasingly globalized financial system contributes to economic inequity and educate on an alternative means to regulate capital in the name of social justice and environmental protection;
  • Analyze, debate and discuss the most current thinking on currency transactions taxes among the leadership of the currency transactions tax movement with emphasis on addressing questions of feasibility and issues associated with implementation;
  • Develop shared and complementary global strategies to advance the public and political debates on the means to control currency speculation;

Encourage and enhance collaboration among NGOs, trade unions, academics and Parliamentarians dealing with the pressing issues of economic globalization, development and social justice.

Conference Agenda - "Taxing Currency Transactions - From Feasibility to Implementation
October 4 - 6, 2001
Vancouver BC

Thursday, October 4, 2001
Public Forum - "Tax the Banks - Share the Wealth"

7:30 – 9:30pm - Simon Frasser University Harbour Centre - Fletcher Challenge Room, West Hastings. St.

Moderator: Linda McQuaig, journalist & author

Panel:Rodney Schmidt, Canadian economist,
Steve Tibbett, Tobin Tax activist (UK),
John Langmore, United Nations representative

This public forum will provide an opportunity for leading currency transactions tax experts from around the world to engage Vancouver citizens in discussions on how the globalization of finance is contributing to social inequity and how the trend can be reversed through the re-regulation of capital. Two hundred attendees are anticipated.

Friday, October 5, 2001
Conference Day 1 - Taxing Currency Transactions – From Feasibility to Implementation

The success of the global movement in favour of currency transactions taxes is contingent upon its intellectual evolution. Day 1 expert panels will provide the opportunity for analysis and debate on the most critical questions associated with currency transactions taxes.

9:00 Keynote Address – Ken Georgetti, President, Canadian Labour Congress Registration Welcoming Remarks – Halifax Initiative

Panel #1 – Technical Feasibility

NOTE for all panels - Each speaker will have 20 minutes and will be followed by 20 minutes of dialogue.

  1. Rodney Schmidt – IDRC (Canada)
  2. Dean Baker - CEPR (USA)

10:35 COFFEE (20 minutes)

10:55 Panel #2 – Tax Rate Efficiency

12:15 LUNCH (local restaurants)

13:30 Panel #3 – Political Feasibility

  • Lorne Nystrom – Member of Parliament (Canada)
  • Glyn Ford - Member European Parliament (UK)
  • Leticia Burgos Ochoa – Senator (Mexico)
  • Jacques-chai Chomthongdi - Focus on the Global South (Thailand)
  • Jörg Huffschmid, Bremen University (Germany)
  • Paul Bernd Spahn – University of Frankfurt (Germany)
  • Bruno Jetin – ATTAC (France)

Panel #4 – Implementation – Legal and Administrative Arrangements

  • Heikki Patomaki – NIGD – (Finland)
  • Robin Round - Halifax Initiative (Canada)
  • John Langmore - United Nations (US)
  • David Felix - Washington University (US)

15:05 COFFEE (20 minutes)

16:45 Panel #5 – Revenue Partition and Redistribution

17:50 Day 1 – Closing

20:00 Dinner for all Registered Participants at Local Restaurant featuring fine BC Cuisine
Saturday, October 6, 2001
Conference Day 2 - Taxing Currency Transactions – From Feasibility to Implementation

The success of a populist movement is contingent upon the continuing and expanding engagement of citizens, academics, institutions and political officials. Day 2 will focus on the development of shared and complementary strategies and tactics to advance the CTT debate globally. Breakout sessions will focus on select issue areas as well as sectoral political strategies and cross-sectoral activities. All groups will report back at a closing plenary. 


10:45 COFFEE

11:00 Issue

12:30 LUNCH (local restaurants)

13:40 Political Strategy Working Groups

15:30 COFFEE

16:00 Closing Plenary

17:30 Conference Closes

  • Reports back from all Working Groups
  • Closing Remarks

Working Groups Continue

  • UN Financing For Development
  • Europe
  • Americas
  • Asia
  • Africa/Middle East
  • Canada/BC/Vancouver

Issue Working Groups

  • Technical Feasibility
  • Tax Rate
  • Legal and Administrative Arrangements
  • Revenue Partition and Redistribution
  • Steve Tibbett – War on Want (UK)
  • Ruthanne Cecil – CEED (USA)

Background on the Halifax Initiative and the Tobin Tax

he Halifax Initiative is a Canadian coalition of thirteen human rights, development, social justice, labour and faith groups committed to the democratisation of economic decision-making as a means to achieve poverty eradication, environmental sustainability and an equitable redistribution of wealth.

The Halifax Initiative has been actively campaigning on the currency transactions or "Tobin-type" tax since the coalition was formed in 1994. The coalition advocated the use of the tax in the wake of the Mexican peso crisis and in the lead up to the 1995 Halifax G7 Summit. From the beginning, the coalition has worked to build a public and political constituency in support of the tax, both nationally and internationally.

The coalition achieved its most significant victory when, on March 23, 1999, the Parliament of Canada became the first in the world to pass a motion on the Tobin Tax. The motion, "that in the opinion of the House, the government should enact a tax on financial transactions in concert with the international community," passed by a resounding 2 to 1 margin, with all party support. Parliamentarians and the media recognized the significant role the coalition had played in raising public awareness and educating officials in the lead up to the vote.

The second significant achievement occurred at the Social Summit in June, 2000, as Canada led the successful proposal to undertake a UN-sponsored study on financing for development which will include research on the use of a currency transactions tax. One hundred and sixty governments supported the initiative.