Abstract: In 1998 the OECD launched a campaign to prevent 'harmful' international tax competition practised by tax havens luring away capital and accompanying tax revenue from large industrialised states. Subsequently the OECD has sought to compel tax havens to eschew this 'tax poaching' in a struggle crucially shaped by normative factors inhibiting the use of economic sanctions and side-payments. The OECD has instead employed a rhetorical strategy of argument and 'naming and shaming' to secure tax havens' compliance, attacking their reputation for financial probity and diminishing their attractiveness as investment destinations. In response, tax havens have sought to appropriate and reverse arguments put into play by the OECD to delegitimate the campaign.
In policy terms, the tax competition initiative exemplifies how core states can set and impose standards regulating the global economy. Theoretically, it provides an explanation based on the interaction of rationalist and normative factors, whilst also advancing our understanding of argument and rhetoric.