UAE, Bahrain to act over Europe tax haven claims

EU finance ministers included the UAE and Bahrain on a new blacklist of 17 jurisdictions deemed tax havens. (Reuters)
Updated 08 December 2017
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UAE, Bahrain to act over Europe tax haven claims

DUBAI: The UAE and Bahrain expect to be removed from the EU’s tax-haven blacklist after taking steps to block tax avoidance by companies, the governments of the two countries said on Thursday.
Two days ago, EU finance ministers included the UAE and Bahrain on a new blacklist of 17 jurisdictions deemed to be tax havens. Inclusion on the list could affect billions of dollars of capital flows through both countries, which are Middle Eastern banking centers.
Countries on the blacklist may no longer be used by EU institutions for international financial operations, and transactions involving them could be subject to closer scrutiny.
On Thursday, both the UAE and Bahrain said they did not deserve to be on the list because they had already taken many steps to exchange financial information with other countries. But they pledged to do more to satisfy the EU.
“We have committed to a reform process which will be finalized by October 2018, and we are absolutely confident this will ensure the UAE is swiftly removed from the list,” the UAE said. It said its only outstanding issue with the EU was implementing the BEPS Minimum Standard. BEPS is a set of policies to tackle tax avoidance strategies that allow multinational companies to shift profits artificially to low or no-tax locations.
The UAE has committed to finalizing implementation of BEPS by October 2018 and ratifying it by March 2019, a schedule which would give the country’s federal structure enough time to ratify the measure across all seven emirates, the government said.
“We stand by this realistic timeline,” it said, adding that it was confident of being recognized as an internationally compliant tax jurisdiction at the EU’s next review.
Bahrain said its national assembly had begun the process of approving agreements that would allow it to collect information from its financial institutions and automatically exchange it every year with other countries.
The government also said it would commit to becoming a member of the Inclusive Framework on BEPS, a group of more than 100 countries and jurisdictions that cooperate to implement BEPS policies.
“Bahrain will initiate dialogue with the EU on this matter, to ensure understanding and recognition of the Kingdom’s efforts to ensure financial transparency, international cooperation and a robust regulatory environment,” it said.


Oil prices fall as OPEC and Russia weigh output boost

Updated 25 May 2018
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Oil prices fall as OPEC and Russia weigh output boost

  • Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak has had talks with Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih on an easing of the terms of the global oil supply pact that has been in place for 17 months
  • The energy ministers of Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United Arab Emirates are discussing an output increase of about 1 million barrels per day

LONDON: Oil prices fell below $78 a barrel on Friday as OPEC and Russia considered easing supply curbs to offset disruptions in Venezuela and an expected drop in Iranian exports.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak has had talks with Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih on an easing of the terms of the global oil supply pact that has been in place for 17 months, Novak said on Friday.
The energy ministers of Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United Arab Emirates are discussing an output increase of about 1 million barrels per day (bpd), sources told Reuters.
Speaking in St. Petersburg, Falih told Reuters that “all options are on the table” when asked about the targets on production cuts.
Brent crude futures were down 80 cents at $77.99 a barrel by 0914 GMT, having hit their highest since late 2014 at $80.50 this month.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $70.18 a barrel, down 53 cents.
“The debate about a possible relaxation of the production restrictions should preclude any renewed price rise,” Commerzbank analysts said.
“The $80 mark is likely to pose an obstacle that is difficult to overcome because it would significantly raise the probability of a production increase.”
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) as well as a group of non-OPEC producers led by Russia started withholding output in 2017 to tighten the market and prop up prices.
Global crude supplies have tightened sharply over the past year because of the OPEC-led cuts, which were boosted by a dramatic drop in Venezuelan production.
The prospects of renewed sanctions on Iran after US President Donald Trump pulled out of an international nuclear deal with Tehran have also boosted prices in recent weeks.
As a result, compliance with the deal to reduce output by 1.8 million bpd by the end of 2018 has been at 152 percent, sources said.
Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at consultancy Energy Aspects, said: “Addressing overcompliance was always likely to be on the agenda amid a tight market and low inventories, but the volume to bring back is still up for debate.”

HIGHER PRICES AT A COST
While Russia and OPEC benefit from higher oil prices, up almost 20 percent since the end of last year, their voluntary output cuts have opened the door to other producers to ramp up production and gain market share.
US crude oil production has risen by more than a quarter in the past two years, to 10.73 million bpd. Only Russia produces more, at about 11 million bpd.
Output from the likes of the United States, Canada and Brazil, which are not bound by the OPEC/Russian-led pact, is likely to rise further as crude prices rise.