India, UK to address cross-border tax evasion; FTA talks after Brexit

05 Apr 2017


India and the UK have agreed to address cross-border tax evasion and avoidance and collaborate in determining the status of wealth deposited in foreign financial accounts by nationals of both countries.

During talks between finance minister Arun Jaitley and visiting UK chancellor of the exchequer Philip Hammond, the two countries committed themselves to the Common Reporting Standards on Automatic Exchange of Tax Information and will begin to exchange information in 2017.

''We look forward to enhanced cooperation in this area. The two sides encourage timely implementation of the G20 / OECD Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Project outputs and call on other countries to meet their commitments,'' a joint communique issued after a meeting of the two finance ministers stated.

The two countries also agreed to promote bilateral trade and investment even as India indicated that a free trade agreement (FTA) can happen only after Britain's formal exit from the European Union (EU).

''We will look at it (FTA), more trade arrangements and engagement between the two countries post the UK's exit from the EU,'' Jaitley said after the ninth UK-India Economic and Financial Dialogue.

Jaitley, however, said India is keen on investing in the UK and also welcomed British investment in India's financial sector.

Hammond's visit comes less than a week after British Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, formally initiating the process of Britain's exit from the EU.

In the meantime, India and the UK have agreed to continue sharing economic knowledge and expertise, including through the India-UK Economic Policy and Prosperity Partnership (EPPP).

The UK and India agreed to work together swiftly to encourage sustainable bilateral investment that benefits both countries, including through the Joint Working Group.

Both sides welcomed the recent launch of a fast track investment promotion mechanism, which provides a single window to help UK companies when establishing and expanding their business in India.

The UK and India agreed that globalisation has had positive impact on the world, and pledged to remain strong advocates for free markets and free trade. ''We agree that international cooperation is vital to make the global economy work for everyone and address shared global challenges. Both sides commit to work together to strengthen our co-operation in the G20, IMF, World Bank and other multilateral bodies to that end.''

The two countries agreed to also support work towards strengthening the Global Financial Safety Net, with a strong, quota-based and adequately resourced IMF at its centre.

Both sides agreed to work together to ensure effective implementation of FATF's anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing standards globally.

India and the UK also reiterated their concern at the threat posed by antimicrobial resistance and underlined the need to explore evidence-based ways to mitigate resistance.

Eight top Indian financial services leaders of the future have been selected as the first Chevening Standard Chartered Financial Services Fellows, who will attend an eight week intensive course in financial services in London in the spring. Besides the two are cooperating in the IMF's South Asia Regional Training and Technical Assistance Centre (SARTTAC) launched in February 2017. India and the UK are both founder members of this centre.

The two sides noted the successful issuances by HDFC (Rs3,000 crore or £366 million) and NTPC (Rs2,000 crore or £244 million) - the first ever masala bonds to be issued by Indian entities in London. The Canadian province of British Columbia also became the first foreign sub-national entity to issue rupee-denominated bonds in London.

The two finance ministers welcomed that the proposal of National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to issue a masala bond in London in next few months. They also welcomed IREDA's plans to issue a green bond in London and list their masala bonds on the London Stock Exchange within six months. They also looked forward to other Indian entities, including Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) and Indian Railway Finance Corporation(IRFC) preparing to issue Masala Bonds in London in the coming months.

Given the increasingly important role the rupee will play in the global economy in years to come, we also welcomed the City of London Corporation's establishment of a Rupee Initiative to bring together market experts and leverage the UK's position as the world's number one foreign exchange centre to further develop this market.

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