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Following the Federal Council decision on 13 March 2009, the UK is the sixth country with which Switzerland has signed a DTA containing the extended administrative assistance clause in accordance with Art. 26 of the OECD Model Convention, after Denmark, Luxembourg, France, Norway and Austria. Up to now Switzerland has negotiated DTAs with an extended administrative assistance clause in accordance with Art. 26 of the OECD Model Convention with fourteen countries. Along with the agreements already signed, there are agreements with Mexico, the USA, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Finland, Qatar and Singapore. These DTAs have been initialled but not yet signed. The Federal Council has also given the go-ahead for the DTA with Mexico to be signed. The other initialled DTAs will be submitted to the Federal Council shortly for approval to be signed.
Along with extending administrative assistance, the opportunity provided by these negotiations with the UK was used to insert an arbitration clause in the DTA in accordance with the OECD Model Convention.
A report on the Protocol of Amendment was submitted to the cantons and the business associations concerned after negotiations finished for their comments. The Conference of Cantonal Finance Directors and the business associations welcome the signing of the revised agreement.
Stages before entry into force
Initialling is defined as the approval of a contractual text by appending initials. Negotiators can in this way provisionally draw up the negotiated contractual text of DTAs (and other agreements based on international law). The initialled text is at first confidential. The cantons and the business associations concerned are notified of the content in a brief report and invited to submit their comments. In the case of negotiations specialist representatives from the cantons may in addition take part.
The agreement is published only after it has been signed. The Federal Council authorises the signing of the agreement. The FDF will then prepare a dispatch for the attention of parliament, which is responsible for approving (ratifying) the DTA. If the partner State has also approved the agreement, it may come into force. The date of entry into force depends on the agreement concerned. The provisions in the DTA apply in accordance with the rules adopted in the agreement, normally from the 1 January of the calendar year following the date of entry into force.
Under the current practice, DTAs that provide for significant additional obligations are subject to an optional referendum. In the view of the Federal Council, the first double taxation agreement with the new administrative assistance provisions approved by parliament should therefore be subject to an optional referendum. However, the final decision as to whether or not a double taxation agreement should be subject to an optional referendum rests with parliament as was the case up to now.