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UAE removed from EU tax-haven blacklist

UAE removed from EU tax-haven blacklist

The agreement on Tuesday comes one month after the list was set up

European Union finance ministers have agreed to remove the United Arab Emirates from a blacklist of tax havens.

The agreement on Tuesday, which also saw the removal of Barbados, Grenada, South Korea, Macao, Mongolia, Tunisia and Panama, comes one month after the list of 17 countries was set up.

All eight have been added to a grey list of 47 other jurisdictions that have committed to changing their tax rules.

The ministers said in a statement that their removal followed “commitments made at a high political level to remedy EU concerns”.

The emirates initially said it was surprised and disappointed at being listed after working with the EU on transparency criteria since early 2017.

But in the days after the decision in December it said it was confident of being removed after committing to reforms that would be finalised by October.

Read: UAE says it expects to be taken off EU’s tax blacklist

These reforms are understood to be related to the country’s implementation of the BEPS Minimum Standard, an agreement signed by some OECD countries to tackle tax avoidance strategies that allow multinationals to shift profits to low tax locations.

EU institutions cannot use countries on the blacklist for international financial operations and transactions involving them are subject to greater scrutiny.

The exact commitments made by those removed on Tuesday have not been disclosed, despite calls from the EU tax commissioner Pierre Moscovici, according to Reuters.

Anti-poverty charity Oxfam’s EU policy advisor on tax and inequality, Aurore Chardonnet, criticised the speed of the removal of the eight countries.

“The EU is rushing to take countries off the blacklist without it being clear what they have actually committed to improve; this is further undermining the process,” she said.

“EU member states must heed the European Commission’s calls for more transparency and make public the commitments that countries on the so-called ‘grey list’ have made. Transparency means that both tax havens and the EU can be held to account, and the blacklisting process leads to actual reforms that help fight inequality.”

Bahrain, American Samoa, Guam, the Marshall Islands, Namibia, Palau, Saint Lucia, Samoa and Trinidad and Tobago are the nine countries that remain on the list.

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