The Swiss federal government has asked Parliament to approve its plans to automatically exchange financial account information (AEOI) with Singapore and Hong Kong from Autumn 2019.
Switzerland has already agreed to implement AEOI with 38 jurisdictions, including all EU Member States. In June 2017, it undertook to extend AEOI to a further 41 jurisdictions by 2019, including most G20 and OECD members.
The Hong Kong and Singapore agreements were negotiated in July and October last year. They have since been through a public consultation period, which ended in April. The Federal Council now expects them to come into force provisionally from 1 January 2019, if Parliament ratifies them, with the first exchange of data in Autumn 2019. This is, it says, is the only way to ensure that its AEOI schedule could be met.
Recent legislative developments in the two Asian jurisdictions also open up the possibility that they will exchange account data with Switzerland under the OECD’s multilateral exchange agreement (the MCAA), as well through as the bilateral agreements.
Switzerland is also proposing to begin non-reciprocal multilateral automatic exchange with other financial centres, including the Bahamas, from 2020.
‘It is important for the Swiss financial sector that the same competitive conditions exist all over the world’, said the Federal Council. It wants to ensure ‘a level playing field worldwide’, so that Switzerland does not cede a competitive advantage to rival financial centres.
Most of the financial centres with which Switzerland plans to introduce AEOI apply exchange non-reciprocally – that is, they will provide account data but do not ask for any in return. These countries include the Bahamas, Bahrain and Qatar. However, Switzerland will conduct reciprocal AEOI with Panama and the Netherlands’ Caribbean territories of Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba.