San Francisco, Nov 16 (PTI) India, the US, and 12 nations of IPEF have announced the conclusion of negotiations for the proposed fair economy agreement to improve tax transparency and increase cooperation in international tax matters.
According to a joint statement from IPEF partner nations, the member countries will now undertake the necessary steps, including further domestic consultations and a legal review, to prepare the final texts of the agreement.
Once finalised, the proposed agreement will be subject to IPEF partners' domestic processes for signature, followed by ratification, acceptance, or approval.
"Today, the 14 IPEF partners announced the substantial conclusion of the negotiations of the IPEF Clean Economy Agreement, the IPEF Fair Economy Agreement, and the Agreement on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity at the IPEF Ministerial Meeting in San Francisco, California," the statement said.
Under the Fair Economy Agreement, the member countries are committed to working together to enhance fairness, inclusiveness, transparency, the rule of law, and accountability in their economies to improve the trade and investment environment in the Indo-Pacific region.
A more transparent and predictable business environment can spur greater trade and investment.
"To achieve these goals, under the proposed agreement, the IPEF partners would work together to enhance their efforts to prevent and combat corruption, including bribery, and support efforts to improve tax transparency and the exchange of information, domestic resource mobilisation, and tax administration," according to the statement.
To that end, it said the 14 countries would enhance their efforts to effectively prevent, detect, investigate, prosecute, and sanction corruption offences consistent with their respective obligations under the United Nations Convention against Corruption and, as applicable, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Anti-Bribery Convention.
They would adopt or maintain measures enabling the identification, tracing, freezing, seizure, and confiscation in criminal or civil proceedings of proceeds of crime, consistent with the UNCAC, and other actions to promote transparency and accountability in the return and disposition of recovered proceeds of crime and strengthen international cooperation on asset recovery.
The pact proposes that the 14 members would address gaps in their respective legal and operational frameworks to prevent money laundering and meet the standards set out in Financial Action Task Force recommendations regarding transparency and beneficial ownership of legal persons, including those relating to government procurement, and take concrete actions to prevent corrupt actors from funnelling the proceeds of their corruption into partners' real estate markets.
The members would also adopt or maintain confidential complaint systems or procedures for the appropriate protection of individuals reporting corruption offences; adopt or maintain criminal, civil, or administrative measures to address corruption, fraud, and other illegal acts in government procurement.
Besides, they would support efforts on tax transparency and information exchange for tax purposes; effectively investigate and prosecute transnational anti-corruption cases and cooperate on international tax matters; and cooperate in relation to money laundering, associated predicate offences, and countering the financing of terrorism, as well as share financial intelligence through appropriate channels.
Under the proposed agreement, the countries would establish a new Capacity Building Framework (CBF) to enhance each other's capabilities to effectively implement all aspects of the proposed pact.
They would also hold annual coordination meetings on anti-corruption, labour, and tax to discuss the implementation of commitments, challenges in implementation, and any technical assistance needs.
IPEF was launched jointly by the US and other partner countries of the Indo-Pacific region on May 23 last year in Tokyo.
The framework is structured around four pillars relating to trade, supply chains, clean economy and fair economy (issues like tax and anti-corruption). India has joined all the pillars except the trade.
Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, the US and Vietnam are members of the bloc.
Together, they account for 40 per cent of the world's economic output and 28 per cent of trade. PTI RR BAL BAL BAL