Initial efforts focused on harmonization—reducing differences among the accounting principles used in major capital markets around the world. By the 1990s, the notion of harmonization was replaced by the concept of convergence—the development of a unified set of high-quality, international accounting standards that would be used in at least all major capital markets.
The International Accounting Standards Committee, formed in 1973, was the first international standards-setting body. It was reorganized in 2001 and became an independent international standard setter, the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). Since then, the use of international standards has progressed. As of 2013, the European Union and more than 100 other countries either require or permit the use of international financial reporting standards (IFRSs) issued by the IASB or a local variant of them.
The FASB and the IASB have been working together since 2002 to improve and converge U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and IFRS. As of 2013, Japan and China were also working to converge their standards with IFRSs. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) consistently has supported convergence of global accounting standards. However, the Commission has not yet decided whether to incorporate International Financial Reporting Standards ( IFRS) into the U.S. financial reporting system. The Commission staff issued its final report on the issue in July 2012 without making a recommendation.
The following is a chronology of some of the key events in the evolution of the international convergence of accounting standards.
The 1960s—Calls for International Standards and Some Early Steps The 1970s and 1980s—An International