Barbados expanding investment treaties
by Tony Best
Barbados is moving to expand its list of investment treaties with European and developing countries in Africa, the Western Hemisphere and the Indian Ocean.
It has already wrapped up negotiations on a double taxation agreement with Mexico and has agreed to negotiate similar treaties with the Seychelles and Luxembourg.
"We have several double taxation treaties with the OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] countries and we recently have been involved in negotiations with the United Mexican States (Mexico) and that agreement has been initialled and will eventually be ratified," said Michael King, Barbados’ Ambassador in Washington.
"We have negotiating commitment with the Seychelles as well as with Luxembourg; the latter is a member of the OECD," King added. "In addition, we are in the process of negotiating or may soon begin discussing, bilateral investment treaties or double taxation agreements with Belgium, France, Ghana, Dubai, India, Chile, Malaysia and Nigeria.
"In the past we have signed investment treaties with Cuba, Venezuela, China, Germany, the United Kingdom, Mauritius and Switzerland. These agreements with many foreign countries should underscore the point that Barbados is a very clean jurisdiction that doesn’t encourage tax evasion or money laundering," he said.
In all, Barbados has double taxation agreement with 14 countries, many of which belong to the OECD, the rich nations’ club based in Paris. It has signed such a pact with Austria and Britain, both of which are OECD members.
"These countries don’t negotiate or sign tax treaties with tax havens or secrecy jurisdictions," King said.
The growing list of treaties and agreements is being used by Barbados to defend itself against a charge made by American Senator Barack Obama, a Democratic presidential candidate, and several other members of the United States Senate, that Barbados, The Bahamas, Antigua and a host of others in the region were tax havens.
The lawmakers have introduced bills in the Senate designed to penalise countries which establish a corporate presence in tax havens.
"That’s an inaccurate and misguided labelling of Barbados," said the ambassador. "Those members of Congress should know that their country doesn’t sign double taxation agreements with tax havens. We have had a double taxation treaty with the United States for almost 25 years.
"The OECD members don’t conclude investment treaties with tax havens and that should be known to officials on Capitol Hill."
Norway, Sweden and Finland have already negotiated agreements with Barbados and they have described the Barbados tax pact as a model to fight tax evasion, stated an official document which Barbados sent the other day to top members of the United States Senate and the House of Representatives.
"Barbados’ investment framework, services offer and sound regulatory financial policies make it a first-class international business and financial services jurisdiction in the Caribbean," the Government stated in an aide memoire sent to Obama, United States Congressman Charles Rangel, chairman of the influential Ways and Means Committee of the House, and others.
"Barbados is also a leader in the region and plays a pivotal role in regional affairs," added the document.