India-Switzerland Current Affairs

India, Switzerland ink two MoUs in the field of Railways

India and Switzerland have signed two Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) for exchanging technical cooperation in the field of Railways.

They were signed after delegation level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting President of Swiss Confederation Doris Leuthard in New Delhi. They also issued Joint press statement.

Signed Pacts

  • MoU between Konkan Railway Corporation Limited (KRCL) and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich.
  • MoU between Ministry of Railways and Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications of the Swiss Federation on Technical Cooperation in Rail Sector.

Key Takeaways of Joint press statement

FDI is a big part of the Indo-Swiss cooperation. Both countries agreed to enhance the business to business cooperation. Both countries are working on new bilateral investment treaty. India thanked Switzerland for supporting for its bid for MTCR and Nuclear Suppliers Group membership.

Switzerland agreed that reforms taken by India will serve good base for expanding cooperation in several areas. Switzerland has accepted automatic exchange of information for transparency in financial transactions with India to effectively combat black money and tax evasion and its parliament is going to pass legislation supporting it by year end. India committed to clean energy and green future and termed climate change as a global challenge.

India-Switzerland

India and Switzerland have long standing relationship and enjoy robust economic ties. Switzerland is being seventh largest trading partner and eleventh largest foreign investor for India. Both countries share common views on many major global issues.

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Black Money: Automatic Information Sharing with Switzerland from 2019

Switzerland has ratified automatic exchange of financial account information with India and 40 other countries. This will facilitate Switzerland to share information about suspected black money with India and other 40 nations.

According to the Swiss Federal Council, the implementation of the exchange sharing agreement has been planned for 2018 and hence the first set of data is likely to be exchanged in 2019. The Swiss Federal Council is a top governing body of Switzerland. The exact date of automatic information exchange would be notified by the Swiss Federal Council soon as there were no procedural delays for the implementation.

However, the Swiss banks have started seeking new safeguards so as to protect the details of their clients against misuse that could expose them to crimes such as kidnapping or blackmail. So, the Swiss Council had stated that they will prepare a situation report before the first exchange of data. As per thr process, it will be ascertained whether the states and territories concerned have put in place a standard, especially those concerning confidentiality and data security. It will be assessed whether the democratic processes in these states and territories are robust or not and whether corruption is high or not etc.

Background

Switzerland has long been perceived as one of the safest havens for black money stashed abroad by Indians. The participation of Switzerland which is the world’s largest home for overseas wealth in the information sharing agreement would be a major boost in ending tax avoidance.

As a step towards fighting black money stashed abroad, ‘Joint Declaration‘ for implementation of Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) was signed between India and Switzerland on November 2016. Switzerland agreed for the introduction of the AEOI (Automatic Exchange of information) on tax matters under the guidance of G20, OECD and other global organisations.

AEOI, based on Common Reporting Standards, when implemented fully would put in place a system wherein bulk taxpayer information will be sent periodically from the source country of income to the country of residence of taxpayer. It would enable India to get access to information virtually from almost all the countries in the world including offshore financial centres.

Switzerland has said the AEOI will be implemented based on the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (MCAA) on the Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information (AEOI). The MCAA is based on the international standard for the exchange of information developed by the OECD. India, on its part has promised to safeguard the confidentiality of the data received.

India joined the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement on Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information on 3rd June, 2015. According to the OECD, MCAA is a multilateral framework agreement that provides a standardised and efficient mechanism to facilitate the automatic exchange of information and avoids the need for the conclusion of several bilateral agreements.

Black money is that amount of money which is liable for taxation, but on which tax is not paid or evaded. It is usually received in cash from underground economic activity and, as such, is not taxed.

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