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Both documents were signed during the two-day visit of Federal Councillor Hans-Rudolf Merz to the Kazakh capital of Astana, which came to an end today.
The Memorandum of Understanding governs the cooperation between the two countries in the Swiss constituency in the IMF and World Bank. On 20 July 2010, the Federal Council stated that it was in favour of Kazakhstan joining the Swiss constituency. Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Poland, Serbia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are already members of the constituency.
With the new member Kazakhstan, the standing of Switzerland's constituency with its geographical and thematic focus on Central Asian countries will be further enhanced. The inclusion of Kazakhstan will also strengthen the constituency's position in the governance reform under way in the Bretton Woods Institutions (BWI). The membership will formally be completed when the IMF and World Bank Executive Directors are elected in the autumn.
In addition, Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz and his Kazakh counterpart Bolat Zhamishev signed in Astana a protocol to amend the double taxation agreement (DTA) in the area of taxes on income and capital. The revised DTA contains provisions on the exchange of information in accordance with the OECD standard, which were negotiated in line with the parameters decided by the Federal Council. The agreement is beneficial for the further development of bilateral economic relations.
Compared with the current DTA, dividend payments to occupational benefits schemes and to central banks will now be exempt from taxation at source with the Protocol of Amendment. The revised DTA also contains an arbitration clause. Moreover, Kazakhstan took Switzerland off its list of countries which provide an insufficient exchange of information for tax purposes. Companies with cross-border operations will thereby no longer incur unfavourable tax treatment.