The reconciliation and convergence

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03 Dec 2005

Ethiopis Tafara, Director, Office of International Affairs of the US Securities and Exchange Commission, discussed the SEC's 'roadmap' of milestones toward elimination of the US GAAP reconciliation requirement for IFRS filers in remarks at FEE's IFRS seminar in Brussels on 1 December 2005. An excerpt: We do not expect full or even a finite degree of convergence before we are willing to eliminate the reconciliation requirement.

What is important is that investors in the United States be able to understand financial statements prepared under IFRS. While convergence between IFRS and US GAAP will certainly help us all in reaching that goal, it is clearly possible for US investors to understand financial statements prepared using a rigorously applied system of IFRS, even if there remain differences between IFRS and US GAAP.

Accordingly, we do not expect an artificially paced standard-setting work targeted at a specific level of convergence before eliminating the reconciliation requirement. That said, before eliminating the requirement, the Commission likely will be keen to see that a robust process for converging IFRS and US GAAP is in place and active. This will help make sure that, going forward, both sets of accounting standards will converge rather than diverge. Of course, the only way to judge the effectiveness of a process is through the results it generates. This means that, before the reconciliation requirement can be eliminated, the Commission will need to review the progress of the IASB/FASB convergence project and will look for convergence of standards that reflect a sense of priority and a measure of efficiency.

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