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Double Taxation Treaties: Developing Countries

Volume 616: debated on Tuesday 25 October 2016

2. What his Department’s objectives are in negotiating double taxation treaties with developing countries. (906783)

4. What outcomes his Department seeks to achieve when negotiating double taxation treaties with developing countries. (906785)

In negotiating double taxation treaties, the UK’s objective is to reach an agreement that allocates taxing rights on a basis that is acceptable to both countries.

Restrictive tax treaties inhibit the ability of developing countries to spend money on public services, such as schools and education. Research from ActionAid shows that, along with Italy, the UK has the highest number of such treaties. Is the Minister willing to work with the Department for International Development to change that?

I disagree with the hon. Gentleman. In fact, double taxation treaties help developing countries. They often remove uncertainty about the way in which businesses choose to make investments, and they open up the route to fairer and more open trade. The majority of the UK’s double taxation treaties are based on the OECD model double taxation convention, and we work very closely with countries to reach mutually acceptable treaties.

What plans does the Minister have to carry out assessments of the impact of the UK’s tax treaties on developing countries, and will her Department offer poorer countries the opportunity to renegotiate treaties that do not do enough to support their development?

As I have said, there is a rolling programme of renegotiation to make sure that treaties reflect modern standards. More broadly, the UK has a very proud record on capacity building in this area. We lead international efforts to support developing countries in tax capacity building. One example is that DFID funds the Global Forum, the World Bank and the OECD to provide technical assistance to partner countries. We can be proud of that record.

In negotiating double taxation regimes with developing and advanced nations, will the Minister look at transfer pricing in terms of establishment provisions so that we can broaden the tax base and stop the likes of Apple, Amazon and Google gaming our tax system?

The UK is committed to ensuring that UK companies pay a fair share of tax in the countries in which they operate. On all the wider aspects of international tax fairness, I reiterate that the UK has taken a very strong stance across the board on a number of issues. I am always happy to speak to my hon. Friend about this issue because he is very much an expert, and I would welcome his views on all such issues.