India, Switzerland ink deal to exchange tax-related info

A Memorandum of Understanding on Financial Dialogue was signed on Monday between India and Switzerland paving the way for exchange of information on financial issues and tax-related information between the two countries. The MoU was signed by India's ambassador to Switzerland Chitra Narayanan and Deputy Secretary, Department of Finance, Switzerland, Michael Ambuhl. The agreement will come into effect on October 6 along with the Amending Protocol to the existing bilateral Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement, signed in August 2010.

The exchange of information under the MoU between finance and tax departments of both countries may finally help the Indian government to tax money illegally stashed away by Indians in Swiss banks.

In a statement to the media after discussions between the two delegations, President Pratibha Patil said: "In our discussions, we touched on economic, financial and fiscal cooperation between India and Switzerland. We noted that the Amending Protocol to the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement would provide a framework for exchange of tax-related information of importance to either side, when it enters into force. An MoU on Financial Dialogue was also signed, which would provide a useful forum for exchange of views on financial and macro-economic issues.''

Patil and her Swiss counterpart Micheline Calmy-Rey held bilateral talks earlier in the day after the Federal Council received the President with a ceremonial guard of honour on the Federal Square in front of the Swiss Parliament. The bilateral talks was also attended by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla. The discussions covered various topics of mutual interest, such as cooperation in economic and financial matters, science and technology.

India and Switzerland have agreed to fund 11 new joint research projects in the fields of materials science and nanotechnology and health sciences.

The issue of climate change was also discussed during these talks. The delegations also discussed the free-trade agreement currently being negotiated between India and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). The issue of reform of the UN Security Council also came up in the discussions.

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