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CARICOM Slams Sarkozy's Tax Haven Slur

by Phillip Morton, Investors

12 December 2011

The Caribbean Community’s Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) has publicly rebuked French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s characterization of three of its member states as 'tax havens'.

In a statement, the COTED said that: “The member states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), like Europe, are seeking to re-ignite growth, create jobs and ensure financial stability. We are therefore deeply concerned by the recent statements made by the President of France at the end of the G-20 Summit last month which identified Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago as ‘tax havens’ [among a list of eleven territories].”

The statement added: “In particular, CARICOM states consider the remarks made at the G-20 Summit press conference by the President to the effect that the 11 countries identified by the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes are regarded as 'tax havens' to be at variance with the spirit conveyed in the Official Declaration by the G-20.”

According to COTED, Sarkozy’s remarks fail to recognize the efforts being made by the CARICOM states identified to bring their legal and regulatory framework into compliance with the global standard. “To be absolutely clear, the Global Forum has not, in fact, published a list of eleven ‘tax havens’, and it has certainly not identified any of these jurisdictions as a tax haven.”

Sarkozy's comments relate to territories that were seen to have flaws in their frameworks for the exchange of tax information in accordance with international standards in recent country-by-country peer review assessments. The concerned territories have yet to progress to the second phase of assessment on 'tax information exchange in practice' pending remedial action to address the 'framework' deficiencies identified.

The statement continues:

“Given our member states’ ongoing collaboration and cooperation with the Global Forum in order to ensure that their legal and regulatory framework meets the global standard, such characterization of CARICOM states is subjective and completely without basis. We therefore categorically reject the President’s assertions with respect to CARICOM states.”

“CARICOM member states acknowledge the outcome of the peer reviews and have been taking action both in respect of our national legal and regulatory framework, as well as in respect of the Intra-CARICOM Double Taxation Agreement (ICDTA), which has been in existence amongst our countries since 1994.”

“In this regard, we are amending the ICDTA to bring the exchange of information provisions in compliance with the global standard.”

CARICOM's statement concludes in recalling that “the Global Forum is intended to be a collaborative and cooperative process rather than the adversarial relationship with the OECD that had prevailed in the past.”

TAGS: compliance | tax | offshore confidentiality | tax information exchange agreement (TIEA) | fiscal policy | law | international financial centres (IFC) | Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) | Trinidad and Tobago | offshore | Antigua and Barbuda | France | standards | Barbados

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