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Colombia, la OCDE y el exabrupto galo

DIPLOMATIC MISTAKE

By Alvaro Tomas

Faced with the impossible task of negotiating the signing of a treaty to avoid double taxation between Panama and Colombia, I would like to clarify my position in opposing the signing of any such agreement that would result in the automatic exchange of tax information with that country. It would be ideal to not sign anything, but realistically speaking and for the sake of diplomacy and bilateral relations, Panama should impose a model agreement for the exchange of information that would defend our service platform and that could also be used as a template for other agreements we might sign in the future with any country we’d want  (just as the FATCA model Americans have). I feel that the stubbornness of the Colombian government undermines the historical relations between two sister nations. I am opposed to Colombia calling Panama a “tax haven” and I feel offended that its inclusion in their blacklist seems to be a wink to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The government of President Juan Manuel Santos forgets that Panama has welcomed its Colombian brothers for decades. Throughout the conflict with the guerrillas, the drug mafia and during their most difficult economic situation, Colombians from every social class, race and profession have found refuge here. With the expansion of its industries to foreign countries, Panama opened its doors to Colombian investment in the cement, beer, fast food and food in general industries and recently in the banking, insurance and financial industries. Panamanians have been allies in the fight for democracy, when the region became infected with the leftists’ cancerous and wild populism. But now, the government of President Santos has become infatuated with the idea of subduing Panamanian sovereignty, trampling our pride and violating public international law governing nations, under the premise of reducing the Colombian fiscal deficit and pleasing the European countries, members of that bureaucratic monstrosity called the OECD whose purpose is seeking to turn Latin countries into its minions. They do not understand that aside from affecting our diplomatic and trade relations, they will not achieve their purpose of taxing funds held abroad. The funds will move to the United States (US), one of the largest and less transparent tax havens in the world. The US does not accept the common standard for automatic exchange of information “required” by the OECD and, therefore, Colombia will not receive the information they yearn. Given the serious damage to Panama’s economy and service platform that our neighboring country could cause, if they insist on pleasing the OECD, I would support suing Colombia before the World Trade Organization in order to apply retaliatory measures and, also, request a compensation for the billions of dollars Panama spends annually in human, military and material resources to prevent the drugs that Colombia fails to stop producing and exporting from getting to our shores. There is still time for the Colombian government to reconsider its diplomatic, commercial and historical mistake, and assess what unites us as nations. Finally, the outburst of French Finance Minister Michel Sapin, declaring that France will monitor the exchange of information with Panama, even though we have a double taxation treaty signed and in force between the two countries, is unacceptable. The French bore us already, for their arrogance, their inflated self-esteem, their insistence on being considered a world power, their desire to sit at the adult table and for their failed socialist policies. The French minister warns that if Panama does not subject to the OECD’s tax information exchange standard, it must face the consequences. I imagine that the brave Sapin does not dare issue the US (who does not  -nor will they ever- subject themselves to the OECD’s automatic exchange standard) the same threats.  May 2016 be a good year for you all, and may this be a year in which Panama takes a stand against the attacks from the OECD.

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