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Barbados PM responds to remarks by French president

Sarkozy warned on Friday that tax havens would be shunned by the international community, naming Barbados among countries he said had not done enough to end banking secrecy. 

“We don’t want any more tax havens. Our message is clear,” Sarkozy said at the end of the G20 summit in Cannes. 

Sarkozy named 11 countries that fail to meet transparency standards – Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Botswana, Brunei, Panama, Seychelles, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Vanuata, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. 

“Countries that remain tax havens … will be shunned by the international community,” he warned.  

Responding to Sarkozy’s remarks, Stuart said that Barbados is a highly respected international financial jurisdiction that, for more than forty years, has included provisions in its tax treaties to ensure the reciprocal exchange of tax information. 

“Tax secrecy has never been a concept that we’ve adopted in Barbados, and we are not a zero tax jurisdiction. In fact, Barbados’ national predisposition towards openness and international cooperation in all matters – including taxation – has meant that it remains one of the few international financial jurisdictions with practical experience in the application of tax information exchange,” he said. 

Stuart went on to ask that all countries use insight and accuracy in their characterisation of other countries, especially when that characterisation has negative connotations. 

“Barbados has signed double taxation treaties with 34 countries, 15 of which are OECD members, and we are working on negotiating or concluding treaties with a further 24 countries, 7 of which are OECD members,” he pointed out. 

“We have recently signed a tax information exchange agreement (TIEA) with the Kingdom of Denmark, and will shortly initial TIEAs with Germany and France, all of whom are OECD members. We have already signed protocols to several of our existing treaties updating the tax information exchange clause to the latest OECD standard,” Stuart said. 

Barbados was the only independent Caribbean country on the OECD ‘White List’ published in April 2009 and, at this time, has signed treaties or agreements, that are compliant with the current OECD standard on tax information exchange, with the following OECD members — The USA, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Netherlands, Mexico, Luxembourg, Spain, Portugal, Iceland, the Kingdom of Denmark and the Czech Republic, and treaties with Italy and Belgium, as well as the protocol with the UK have been initialed. 

“In times such as these, it is imperative that countries work to identify, articulate and nurture mutually beneficial international relationships. With respect to International financial jurisdictions, we believe that successful relationships must be defined by more than the exchange of tax information. Rather, the most mutually beneficial relationships will be defined by double taxation treaties and investment treaties — agreements that facilitate international trade while providing the necessary provisions to ensure tax transparency,” Stuart concluded.

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