EU notes Samoa’s blacklist delisting attempt

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Samoa’s two-year-old Government has shown commitment towards removing itself from the list of countries on the European Union’s tax blacklist.

Sujiro Seam, outgoing European Union Ambassador to the Pacific, made the comments in an interview with the Samoa Observer. He is on his last tour of the region and is currently in Apia, as he gets ready to vacate his office in Suva, Fiji at the end of August and move on to his next posting.

The EU blacklist is made up of 16 jurisdictions due to their lack of commitment to improve their tax good governance or due to the lack of progress in delivering on their previous commitments. Samoa has been on this list since 2017.

The EU under its process, jurisdictions are assessed against three main criteria – tax transparency, fair taxation and their implementation of BEPS [base erosion and profit shifting] minimum standards.

“I think there is a common understanding between the Government of Samoa and the European Union that things need to be amended. The tax law here needs to be amended so that more can be removed from that list of non-cooperative jurisdictions on tax matters,” Ambassador Seam said.

“I think following the election of a new Government here in Samoa two years ago, we’ve had a renewed impetus and commitment to bring about the necessary changes. It’s a complex matter.

“So contacts continue at the technical level, so that we can consider the necessary improvements to that tax legislation in Savoir which would allow someone to be removed from the EU list, but the common goal we have between the European Union and the Government of Samoa is really to manage to implement the necessary changes to allow Samoa to be delisted.”

Nations that fall short on any of the EU criteria are asked for a commitment to address the deficiencies within a set deadline and are included in the list of non-cooperative jurisdictions if these commitments are not met.

Thanks to the EU blacklisting process, many countries have already taken concrete measures to comply with tax good governance standards, while over 140 harmful regimes have been eliminated worldwide since 2017.

The EU has earlier stated that they will continue to work with Member States to improve the process by reviewing the criteria of the listing process, as well as the consequences for listed countries.

According to the respected International Tax Review magazine, in a commentary published on 17 February 2023, report that Samoa is among “persistently blacklisted jurisdictions” which have been on the list since 2017.

However, Ambassador Seam said despite Samoa being on the list, assistance from the EU to Samoa especially in direct budget support, continues along with the works on improving water sanitation quality.

SOURCE: SAMOA OBSERVER/PACNEWS