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Arab nations 'disappointed' after appearing on tax havens blacklist

The United Arab Emirates appeared on the EU blacklist [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 December, 2017

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The United Arab Emirates, Tunisia and Bahrain showed up on a EU list of 17 tax havens around the world this week.
Three Arab nations expressed disappointment toward the European Union on Thursday after it included them in a list of 17 tax havens around the world.

The United Arab Emirates said it was "surprised and disappointed" over its inclusion on the European Union tax haven blacklist.

"We remain fully committed to maintaining the highest international standards of financial oversight and tax regulation and will continue to work with our international partners to deliver this," the finance ministry said in a statement.

The UAE, which boasts the second largest Arab economy and the most open and diversified market in the region, was among 17 nations placed by EU on the tax blacklist.

The list of non-EU states was unveiled on Tuesday, a year after the leak of the Panama Papers – a massive amount of data from a prominent Panamanian law firm showing how the world's wealthy stash their assets.

"We have adopted at EU level a list of states which are not doing enough to fight tax evasion. This blacklist includes 17 states," French finance minister Bruno Le Maire told reporters in Brussels.

But the Emirati under-secretary of the finance ministry Younis Haji al-Khouri said "the UAE has worked to meet the European Union's requirements in terms of exchanging tax-related information.”

"We have committed to a reform process which will be finalised by October 2018, and we are absolutely confident this will ensure the UAE is swiftly removed from the list," Khouri said.

The ministry also insisted that it has drafted, legislated and implemented significant reforms to ensure that "we remain in lock-step with our OECD partners and international best practice.”

Meanwhile, a Tunisian official said the country was included notably over tax advantages for exporting companies based on its territory.

The official stressed that "Tunisia refuses all meddling in its fiscal policy" and stressed its determination to maintain the advantageous tax regime for such firms.

Tunisia's bosses federation Utica expressed "surprise" at the EU decision it termed "dangerous" while urging dialogue with Brussels to resolve the issue.

Among the Arab nations on the list is Bahrain, however authorities are yet to respond to the move.

The EU has struggled for over a year to finalise the blacklist, with smaller, low-tax EU nations such as Ireland, Malta and Luxembourg worried about scaring off multinationals.

The countries on the list are: American Samoa, Bahrain, Barbados, Grenada, Guam, Macau, the Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Namibia, Palau, Panama, Saint Lucia, Samoa, South Korea, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.

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