The International Organization of Securities Commissions and the IFRS Foundation agreed on a set of protocols Wednesday under which the two organizations will deepen their cooperation to develop International Financial Reporting Standards and apply them consistently across the globe.

IOSCO develops and promotes adherence to internationally recognized standards for securities regulation. Its membership includes more than 120 securities regulators overseeing 95 percent of the world’s securities markets. The mission of the IFRS Foundation, through the standard-setting body it oversees, the International Accounting Standards Board, is to develop a single set of high-quality global accounting standards.

“IOSCO and the IFRS Foundation have a common interest that global accounting standards be well developed and consistently applied in practice across varying national settings,” said IFRS Foundation chairman Michel Prada in a statement. “Indeed, it was decisions taken by IOSCO back in 2000 that led to the creation of the IASB with the objective of global accounting standards. Today’s agreement with IOSCO is consistent with the conclusions of the IFRS Foundation 2011 Strategy Review and represents a big step forward to achieving that vision.”

The IOSCO/IFRS Foundation Statement of Protocols has already been approved by the IOSCO board and the IFRS Foundation trustees.

“I welcome this important initiative which will support our ongoing efforts to implement accounting standards globally to achieve high quality,” said IOSCO chairman Greg Medcraft in a statement. “I look forward to building on our good and constructive cooperation to date.”

The agreement states that IOSCO and the IFRS Foundation “have a common interest that IFRS be consistently applied in practice across varying national contexts and settings.”

“Timely communication between securities regulators and the IASB and its staff can lead to the early detection of implementation issues and the opportunity to prevent or limit the development of diversity in practice,” said the document.

The agreement could represent a challenge to the U.S., whose efforts over more than a decade to converge U.S. GAAP with IFRS have been making slow progress. The Financial Accounting Standards Board, under its new chairman Russell Golden, and the IASB, under its chairman Hans Hoogervorst, have been moving toward a more multilateral approach to standard-setting. Last year, with the expiration of the decade-old Norwalk Agreement, the IASB established of the Accounting Standards Advisory Forum, in which FASB and other national and regional standard-setters from various parts of the world advise the IASB on improvements in IFRS. Last week, Golden announced at an event marking the 40th anniversary of FASB’s founding, that his priority would be to improve U.S. GAAP for the benefit of investors and other users of financial information in the U.S. capital markets, while also continuing to work with the IASB as well as national standard-setters in other countries (see FASB Chairman Russ Golden Plans New Course for Board).

Meanwhile, the Securities and Exchange Commission has shown little inclination so far under its recently appointed chair, Mary Jo White, to allow U.S. companies to file their financial statements in IFRS or to make a decision on incorporating IFRS into the U.S. financial reporting system.

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