The Securities and Exchange Commission has opened a 60-day public comment period to see whether the U.S. should adopt international reporting standards.

The rule-based, Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) have been around in the U.S. for years, but differ from the principle-based International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) that the European Union adopted in 2005. Currently more than 100 countries have moved to incorporate or are allowing IFRS.

"The proposed roadmap is cautious and careful," SEC Chairman Christopher Cox said Wednesday.

Large, U.S. multinational firms can start voluntarily using the standards in 2010. The next year, in 2011, the SEC will vote on whether to require all U.S. companies to make the switch.

The staggered timetable aims to have large U.S. companies switch to IFRS in 2014, followed by mid-sized companies in 2015 and small companies in 2016.

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