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Canadian Institute Of Chartered Accountants, Colegio De Contadores De Chile A. G., Institute Mexicano De Contadores Publicos A. C., and the Financial Accounting Standards Board of the United States.

CANADIAN INSTITUTE OF CHARTERED ACCOUNTANTS, COLEGIO DE CONTADORES DE CHILE A. G., INSTITUTE MEXICANO DE CONTADORES PUBLICOS A. C., AND THE FINANCIAL ACCOUNTING STANDARDS BOARD OF THE UNITED STATES, Significant Differences in GAAP in Canada, Chile, Mexico, and the United States: An Analysis of Accounting Pronouncements as of October 2002 (Toronto, Ontario: The Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, 2002, 117pp).

This publication compares accounting pronouncements in Canada, Chile, Mexico, and the United States on 46 different subject areas, including the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) positions on these areas. It is sponsored by the American Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) Committee, comprised of representatives of the four countries, whose purpose is to improve the quality and comparability of accounting standards across those countries. It is the 4th in a series comparing accounting pronouncements across the countries, with previous editions being published in 1996, 1998, and 2001. The primary purpose of this book would be to serve as a reference guide in researching GAAP differences in particular areas of accounting.

The book starts out with an overview that points out areas where differences have been eliminated and are no longer considered significant since the study published in 1996. These include income taxes and foreign currency translation. It also points out areas where major work has taken place by accounting standard setters since 2001 and areas where there is significant work in progress. The remainder of the book is an area-by-area comparison of accounting standards in the 46 areas. For each area, a general overview of accounting standards is presented for each of the four countries as well as for the IASB.

This book could serve as a handy reference for accountants practicing international accounting, financial analysts comparing or analyzing financial statements, and for academics researching GAAP in the four countries. It could be used to research accounting standards in any one of the four countries or to compare GAAP across two or more of the countries. It also includes references to the applicable accounting pronouncements if more detailed descriptions of the applicable GAAP are necessary. In addition, this text could facilitate research on Chilean and Mexican GAAP for non-Spanish speakers.

The strengths of the book are organization and detail. The accounting pronouncements are compared by subject area for each of the countries. This would be especially helpful for researchers from outside the country of interest who might be unfamiliar with its GAAP. As such a researcher can consult a single reference to compare GAAP across the countries as opposed to consulting four different sources. It is also helpful that references are provided to the pronouncements. An advantage of this book is that it goes into far greater detail than most international accounting texts in comparing the GAAP systems between countries. The text is very general in comparing GAAP in most instances, although there are some areas where the detail is extensive, generally due to the prescriptive nature of the pronouncements in areas such as disclosure where long lists of required disclosures are necessary.

This text would not be recommended for use in educational settings where the goal is to study the GAAP of the respective countries. The format is simply a listing of the 46 areas and a synopsis of the GAAP. There is no analytical discussion comparing the approaches taken or assessment of the quality or other theoretical features of the standards. As such, this text would mainly serve as a GAAP reference. It would be helpful if there were more information on the overall accounting environments in the countries, such as a discussion of governmental involvement in accounting regulation and of the accounting standard-setting processes in the countries.

Two appendices are provided. The first lists standards issued or withdrawn since the 2001 iteration of the book. The second describes the purpose and goals of the AFTA Committee for Cooperation on Financial Reporting Matters.

Overall, this book serves a reference source for those wishing to compare accounting standards across the four countries or for those who need a quick overview of the GAAP in a particular area in one of the countries.

John White

Elmhurst College

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Author:White, John
Publication:Journal of International Accounting Research
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 2004
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