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Brussels, 27 November 2013
Global dimension of Tax and Customs: Commissioner Šemeta in Asia and Australia
Commissioner for Taxation, Customs, Statistics, Audit and Anti-fraud Algirdas Šemeta will be in Singapore and Australia from 28 November to 3 December. The purpose of his trip is to discuss international tax matters – notably the global fight against tax evasion – as well as customs cooperation and trade facilitation.
As EU Commissioner responsible for customs policy, the Commissioner will then join Commissioners De Gucht and Ciolos at the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali. The Ministerial Conference will hopefully welcome a package international trade agreement including a global pact for trade facilitation, in which customs plays a major role.
Singapore (28-30 November)
Singapore is an international financial centre and therefore a very relevant player in progressing international work to increase tax transparency and fight tax evasion. Commissioner Šemeta will be seeking support for the highest possible good governance standards at international level, and will be discussing with his counterparts how the global momentum and ambition in this area can be maintained.
Singapore is also an important player in international trade, with whom the EU is signing a comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA). Singapore is EU's 14th largest trading partner. EU Singapore trade in goods grew by 40% between 2009 and 2011. In the same period trade in services grew by 41%. Developing further bilateral customs cooperation to enhance supply chain security, fight illicit smuggling and facilitate trade will be the focus of the Commissioner's discussions there.
In Singapore Commissioner Šemeta will meet the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratham, the Commissioner of the Inland Revenue Service of Singapore, Dr Tan Kim Siew, the Director General of Customs, Mr Fong Yong Kian, as well as members of the EU business community in Singapore.
Australia (1-3 December)
Australia will hold G20 Presidency in 2014. As such, it will have a vital role to play in pushing forward the international agenda against tax evasion and avoidance. Huge progress in the international fight against tax evasion has been made in past year, with the strong backing of the G20. There is a commitment to make the automatic exchange of information the global standard, and to push ahead with the OECD's BEPS project against corporate tax avoidance. However, these commitments must now become results. Commissioner Šemeta will be offering the EU's full and active support to Australia for a strong G20 Presidency, in which momentum is maintained and concrete deliverables achieved.
Australia is also an important economic and trading partner for the EU. It is the EU's 15th largest partner in two-way merchandise trade, while the EU is Australia's second-largest economic and trading partner, after China (2012).
In Australia Commissioner Šemeta will meet Treasurer Joe Hockey, Assistant Treasurer Senator Arthur Sinodinos, Finance Minister Senator Mathias Corman, Minister for Communication Malcolm Turnbull, the CEO of the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service Michael Pezzullo and several senior taxation and treasury officials and experts. The Commissioner will also meet with representatives of the EU and the local business communities.