Investigating the Harmonization of Accounting Practices
Growth in international trade has been on the increase over the years necessitating several organisations to be involved in the efforts to harmonise accounting practices either regionally or internationally. Among those, leading in this effort were the European Union (EU) and International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) (formerly International Accounting Standards Committee, IASC). This essay will look at background and harmonisation process of the two organisations and evaluate their achievements to date. It is considered that ‘harmonisation’ maybe defined as a means by which differences are reduced hence harmonisation of financial practices will be regarded as the process by which the differences in accounting practices across countries are reduced ultimately resulting in a set that is comparable (Nobes and Parker, 2010). Background and Objectives
The European Union (EU) is an economic and political union of 27 member countries located in Europe. The EU was established on 1 January 1958 following the Treaty of Rome 1957 (Nobes and Parker, 2010). The objective of Treaty had established rules to encourage free movement of persons, products and services, and capital. This establishment drives the needs of harmonization of accounting and financial reporting.
Thus, the most important objective of EU is to create a common market for the member countries. Uniformed accounting standards are required regionally in all parts of EU to encourage the flow of capital, enhance the protection of the shareholders and other stakeholders, and increase the reliability and comparability of companies’ financial information. The EU shows a contribution to regionally harmonizing accounting practices by established Directives and Regulations which are the two main instruments to harmonize company law and accounting standards (Nobes and Parker, 2010). As as an economic and political union, the EU have issued and established many directives to harmonize accounting practice in regional term. However, in international scope, the IASC is one of bodies are effecting on harmonization of accounting rules and disclosure and it reported a number of international standards (Nobes and Parker 2010). IASC was founded in June 1973, and the Board of IASC was constituted simultaneously by main accountancy bodies in nine different countries such as Canada, France, Germany, UK, and USA etc. The IASC was established to harmonize international accounting standards. IASC has received board range of support for its effort to harmonize international accounting, which has been considered as leading force to harmonization (Larson, 1999). The harmonization of accounting is also supported by IOSCO (International Organization of Securities Commissions), large public accounting firms, trading unions and most national public accountancy bodies. The basic objective of IASC is considered as publishing accounting standards to be observed in the financial statement preparation and encourage their acceptance and observance globally (Nobes and Parker, 2010). In 2001, the IASC restructured and renamed to the IASB. The new organization has shown new more comprehensive objectives compared to the IASC. To be able to understand the objectives of IASB, the conceptual frameworks should be explained. The IASC’s conceptual framework included the objectives and the qualitative characteristics. The following table 1 shows the detailed objectives of IASB under the IFRS Foundation Constitution.
To develop high quality and understandable international accounting standards to guide high quality, transparent and comparable information in financial reporting. Thus accounting standards will help the global capital market participants and other users’ decision making. To encourage the use and...