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The Marshall Islands and Australia agreed to a new tax information exchange treaty Wednesday, which island officials say is a step to moving this western Pacific nation off the Europe-based Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation(OECD) “gray list” of tax havens.
Australian Ambassador Susan Cox and Acting Finance Minister Brenson Wase signed a tax information exchange pact in Majuro Wednesday.
The tax treaty is the second for the Marshall Islands, which already has one with the United States and is expected to sign treaties with 11 other nations to meet OECD standards for removal from the tax haven list.
The Marshall Islands was originally blacklisted by OECD in the mid-2000s, but after transparency commitments were made by the government, OECD moved this island nation to its gray list.
“In 2007, the Marshall Islands conveyed its commitment and readiness to work with the OECD for transparency and exchange of information on tax matters,” said Mr Wase.
This treaty with Australia that follows recent passage by the parliament of a law authorizing tax exchange treaties to be negotiated and implemented, demonstrating the country’s effort to meet international standards, he said.
The Marshall Islands operates the world’s third largest ship registry and a growing corporate registry. An official with the Marshall Islands Trust Company, which manages these registries, said tax exchange agreements are in final stages of negotiation with Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Iceland, Faroes Islands, Greenland, Italy, S. Korea, Ireland, Mexico and New Zealand.
“Australia recognizes the Marshall Islands commitment to meet the highest international standards,” said Ms Cox, adding that the Marshall Islands is Australia’s 25th tax information exchange treaty partner.
Agreements such as this “strengthen the stability and integrity of countries,” said Ms Cox, who is based in Pohnpei.
She said the Australian tax office will be offering technical assistance and training opportunities for the Marshall Islands Ministry of Finance as part of implementing the new treaty.
SOURCE: MARIANAS VARIETY/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
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