The Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development today said it welcomes the tax information exchange agreement between Australia and Bermuda. The signing of the bilateral agreement “on the exchange of information for tax purposes” coincides with the beginning of the two-day OECD Global Forum on Taxation in Melbourne. The Global Forum is focusing on issues relating to transparency and information exchange.

Mr. Bill McCloskey, Chairman of the OECD’s Committee on Fiscal Affairs and Co-Chair of the Global Forum, says the agreement reflects a growing trend toward greater transparency and international co-operation in tax matters. *”I congratulate both parties for strengthening their bilateral relationship and for joining together to counter abuse of the financial system,”* he said.

A release today from the OECD said Bermuda became an important partner in its initiative to improve transparency and exchange of information in tax matters in 2000, when it committed to work with OECD countries on developing these principles with a view to implementing measures to support them. Since that time, Bermuda has played an active role in the OECD Global Forum on Taxation, most notably by participating in the working group that developed the Model Agreement on Exchange of Information on tax Matters. That Model is now being used as the basis for bilateral negotiations.

The bilateral follows a similar agreement last month between the Isle of Man and the Netherlands, described at that time as the first agreement of its kind between a small international business centre and a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Last year Australia entered into negotiations for tax information exchange agreements with 10 countries, including Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Jersey, Guernsey, Antigua and Barbuda, and the Isle of Man. The Australian Treasury says more negotiations are planned for this year, with agreements focusing on the effective exchange of financial and other tax-related information involving Australian residents.