Choo Zheng Xi / Editor-in-Chief

In an opinion piece on TOC entitled “Singapore a blacklistee to be?”, I said that the Ministry of Finance was “probably misleading” by highlighting its accession to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) standards on Double Tax Avoidance (DTA) treaties while saying nothing of the OECD standards on Tiered Income Exchange Agreements (TIEAs). I said in the article that “signing of the standards on DTAs are a red herring, and are unlikely to keep Singapore off the OECD blacklist”.

After a phone conversation with Jeffrey Owen, Director of the OECD Centre of Tax Policy, I now understand that this opinion is incorrect.

The assumption I made was that the quality of information sharing required by a DTA is lower than that of a TIEA.

According to Mr Owen, the OECD recognizes and encourages countries to sign at least 12 OECD standard TIEAs or DTAs. Singapore currently has more than the requisite number of DTAs, but these will have to be brought into compliance with OECD standards by the amendment of Singaporean domestic law and possibly the renegotiation of some of these DTAs. When this is done, Singapore is likely to graduate from the “greylist”.

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