'The Impact of Offshore Profit Shifting on the Measurement of GDP: The Case of the UK'


‘The Impact of Offshore Profit Shifting on the Measurement of GDP: The Case of the UK’


Thursday 28 January 2021, 11:30 — 12:30

Presented by: Giordano Mion (University of Sussex and Centre for Economic Performance) and Manuel Tong (National Institute of Economic and Social Research)

In this talk we analyse the global distribution of profits declared by multinational enterprises (MNEs) operating in the UK using the Orbis database. Our investigations cover the period 2007-2017 and focus on entities reporting non-consolidated accounts and belonging to corporate Global Ultimate Owners active worldwide. Our analyses suggest that, compared to actual declared profits, profits distributed according to a simple apportionment rule based on companies’ revenue shares within each MNE group would look quite different. In particular, MNEs operating in the UK reported in 2017 41 billion GBP (representing about 1.9% of UK GDP) more than what they would have reported based on our apportionment rule. In this light, the UK was in 2017 a net winner in terms of global MNEs’ profit shifting. The situation was actually reversed back in 2007, with MNEs operating in the UK reporting less profits than those arising from our apportionment rule. A closer inspection of the whole period 2007-2017 reveals a smooth change with the UK moving from a loser to a winner position mainly through changes in declared profits of UK-owned MNEs. We subsequently extend the analysis by examining industry-specific patterns and conduct a number of robustness checks concerning the apportionment rule and the companies involved in the analysis while pointing to a number of limitations of our approach related to difficulties arising in dealing with Crown Dependencies, Branches, Special Purpose Entities and Family Trusts.

Video recording