Arab nations 'disappointed' after appearing on tax havens blacklist

The European Union has blacklisted 17 global tax havens at a meeting of finance ministers in Brussels

The European Union has blacklisted 17 global tax havens at a meeting of finance ministers in Brussels

The EU said in a statement of Tuesday that the goal of the list is to ensure its partners adhere to the same tax standards as itself, calling it "a key victory for transparency and fairness".

The EU has named 17 countries - including South Korea, Mongolia, Namibia, Panama, Trinidad & Tobago, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates - in its first ever tax haven blacklist and put a further 47 on notice, including British overseas territories and the crown dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, in an attempt to crack down on the estimated £506bn lost to tax avoidance every year.

The UK's Guardian reported that the blacklist will be linked to European Union legislation so that jurisdictions implicated will not be eligible for funds from the bloc, except where funds are for development.

BEPS is an agreement signed by some OECD member countries to tackle tax avoidance strategies that allow multinational companies to shift profits artificially to low or no-tax locations.

Finance minister Calle Schlettwein yesterday said that it was unfair and shocking that the European Union would label Namibia as a tax haven.

The Government said that of the worldwide tax standards the country has and hasn't adopted, "the sole outstanding issue is the implementation of the base erosion and profit shifting minimum standards, which we have committed to finalize by October 2018 and ratify by March 2019 - giving our federal structure sufficient time to allow for ratification across the seven emirates". That means they promote unfair tax practices, or don't share important financial information with the EU. The EU said they could be included in an updated list.

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"There is no tax haven in the EU", Moscovici assured, insisting that EU member states "respect global standards".

The bloc did not assess its own member states.

"If EU governments really wanted to get rid of tax havens, they should be open about the fact that several EU Member States, such as Luxembourg, Ireland and the Netherlands, also have to fundamentally change their behaviour".

Deputy secretary of state Ricardo Mourinho Félix was quoted as saying that the Portuguese tax haven list - which does not include Macau - "must be collated with the European list".

The Paradise Papers leak, which made public some of the intricate ways corporations and individuals evade tax using offshore havens, has given new impetus to the bloc.

European Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici earlier commented that EU leaders were still in talks over an initial list of 29 countries, with disagreements still strong on who will make the final version.

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