The Structure of the Asymmetric Tax Treaty Network: Theory and Implications


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 States´ asymmetric tax treaty network represents about 53% 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. Second, this Article extends that theory to understand the dynamics of tax treaty interpretation in the emerging world. This extension aims to illuminate the incentive structure that 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.


International Law

Date of this Version

February 2007