Luxembourg's Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said the conclusions adopted at the recent European Council meeting on the revised Savings Tax Directive have enabled "a green light from the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg."
He expressed his satisfaction that all 28 European Union (EU) member states reached an agreement at the latest European Council meeting in Brussels, and said Luxembourg wants to have "a transparent banking center."
Bettel underlined the importance of the European Commission's assurance that it will continue negotiating with European third countries to establish equivalent measures, with the aim of reaching a conclusion by the end of the year.
The EU 28 formally adopted the revised Savings Tax Directive on March 24, 2014. The Directive aims to clamp down on cross-border tax evasion through the automatic exchange of information (AEI). The scope of the Directive is extended to investment funds, pensions, and innovative financial instruments, closing existing loopholes.
Luxembourg and Austria had made their support for the new deal conditional on accelerated negotiations with third countries, such as Switzerland, to create a level playing field.
Taking note of the European Council's agreement to extend the scope of the Directive, the Luxembourg Bankers' Association (ABBL) stated:
"We welcome the current efforts to establish the automatic exchange of information as a global standard. The approved amendments to the Savings Directive merely represent an intermediary step in this on-going process."
"Luxembourg banks have been actively preparing for the introduction of the automatic exchange of information at least since 2009, when Luxembourg agreed to introduce the exchange of information on demand in its double taxation treaties."
It continued: "In the interest of the EU wealth management industry, the ABBL would like to reiterate its call for a level playing field regarding the implementation of the AEI. We therefore urge the European Commission to continue its efforts and to move forward swiftly in order to ensure that concerned non-EU countries continue to apply measures equivalent to those in the EU. In this context, we welcome Prime Minister Bettel's announcement that Luxembourg received guarantees that the EU Commission's negotiations with these countries would be concluded by the end of the year."
"We also call on authorities to ensure that a single, consistent, and coherent framework for the automatic exchange of information is put in place. EU and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) approaches must be aligned in order to avoid a costly and burdensome proliferation of different AEI standards and deadlines of entry into force. We join our colleagues of the European Banking Federation by insisting on streamlined AEI standards, whose costs and administrative burdens are bearable for the financial industry and that are manageable from a day-to-day operational point of view.".
Hungary and Kyrgystan have begun DTA negotiations, the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade announced on February 28, 2018.
Morocco and Cape Verde will begin DTA negotiations in March 2018, Morocco's Tax Agency announced.
The DTA signed between Mexico and Saudi Arabia entered into force on March 1, 2018, following the publication in Mexico's official Gazette of a law ratifying the agreement on February 26, 2018.
Bangladesh and Morocco signed a DTA on March 1, 2018.
Meeting over two days ending February 28, 2018, representatives from Pakistan and the Philippines agreed to renegotiate their DTA.
The UK and Mauritius signed a DTA on February 28, 2018.
Singapore signed a DTA with Tunisia on February 27, 2018.
Bahrain's King, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, has approved a law ratifying the DTA Protocol signed with the Philippines, state media reported on February 20, 2018.
The Luxembourg Government on February 23, 2018, reported it is pushing for the negotiation of an amended DTA with Oman.
According to a monthly update from the Mexican Government, Mexico's DTA with Jamaica entered into force on February 24, 2018.
According to preliminary media reports, Switzerland's upper house of parliament of February 26, 2018, approved laws to ratify the DTAs signed with Kosovo and Pakistan and a Protocol with Latvia.
The Luxembourg Government announced that it is engaged in DTA negotiations with 15 countries, in a January 29, 2018, update, including newly DTA negotiations with the UK.
Ireland and Ghana signed a DTA on February 7, 2018.
According to a statement from the President's office, Iran's Cabinet on February 18, 2018, approved the signing of DTAs with Sweden, Lithuania, and Japan.
On February 19, 2018, the Philippines Senate adopted three resolutions ratifying agreements for the avoidance of double taxation with Mexico, Thailand, and Sri Lanka.
Japan and Spain have agreed a DTA in principle, to replace their existing pact, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced February 21, 2018.
The Armenian Ministry of Finance said February 22, 2018, that a DTA had been initialed after four days of negotiations with Iraq.
India's Ministry of Finance on February 22, 2018, revealed that an updated DTA between India and Kenya had been published in the Official Gazette, to replace the agreement in place between the two countries since 1985.
South Africa's DTA Protocol with Brazil entered into force on February 10, 2018.
Moldova's Cabinet on January 31, 2018, approved a law to ratify the DTA signed with Georgia in November 2017.
According to preliminary media reports, Kazakhstan's Senate on February 15, 2018, approved a law to ratify a Protocol to the DTA with Azerbaijan.
Poland published an order in its Official Gazette on February 8, 2018, to bring the DTA signed with Ethiopia in 2015 into force. The agreement entered into force on February 14, 2018.
Paraguay's Government on February 11, 2018, announced the signing of a DTA with Qatar.
Guernsey's TIEA with Portugal will enter into force March 15, 2018, according to a February 20, 2018, update from the Guernsey Government.
The Botswana Government has announced that the country will sign a DTA Protocol with Zimbabwe by the end of the year.