Dubai – Eight countries including the UAE, Panama and South Korea have been removed by the European Union from its new tax haven blacklist – a move that has drawn criticism from activists, according to media reports.
Tunisia, Mongolia, Macau, Grenada and Barbados were also lifted, in a change of mind that comes just weeks after the bloc unveiled its original list of non-EU countries.
Last month, the EU placed the UAE on its tax haven blacklist. Reacting to this, the UAE has issued a statement expressing its disappointment over the country’s unfortunate inclusion in recent EU list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions, reiterating that the UAE remains “fully committed to maintaining international standards.”
The statement by the UAE’s Ministry of Finance reads: “The Government of the United Arab Emirates is surprised and disappointed that it has been included by the European Union in a list of non-compliant tax jurisdictions.
“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.”
On December 5, the EU released its first-ever list of ‘non-cooperative tax jurisdictions,’ which it said had been agreed by the Finance Ministers of EU Member States during their meeting in Brussels.
In total, the list named 17 countries for ‘failing to meet agreed tax good governance standards’. The UAE was named as part of that list while an additional 47 countries are said to have committed to addressing deficiencies in their tax systems and to meet the required criteria, following contacts with the EU.
The UAE’s Undersecretary of the Ministry of Finance, Younis Haji Al Khouri, said: “The UAE has worked to meet the European Union’s requirements in terms of exchanging tax-related information.”
He added: “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. We look forward to moving into the next phase of cooperation with our EU partners on the important issue of tax regulation.”
The UAE government’s official statement noted that, “since early 2017, the UAE has worked transparently with our European Union counterparts to ensure that we meet the criteria laid down by European Union Member States.