The 8th Asia-Africa IFA Conference saw tax experts coming together from Europe, Asia, Africa and United States to discuss the latest developments in the field of taxation as well as investments in Africa.

The conference took place over two days starting May 15, 2014 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Balaclava under the theme “International Tax Developments – Global and Regional”.

The event focused on the most recent issues relating to Asia and Africa. On the first day, the focus was on the substance-over-form conundrum while on the second day, investing in Africa and issues relating to direct and indirect taxes were central to the discussion.

IFA Conference chairman Rajesh Ramloll noted during the opening ceremony that the IFA Mauritius branch is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

According to him, the aim behind its annual meet is to achieve IFA’s objectives, which are the study and advancement of international and comparative law in regard to public finance, specifically international and comparative fiscal law and the financial and economic aspects of taxation.

Although the operations of the IFA are essentially scientific in character, the subjects selected take account of current fiscal developments and changes in local legislation.

He added that the Base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) project by the Paris-based Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) marked a turning point in the international corporation tax domain.

Mauritius Attorney General, Satish Faugoo, noted that Mauritius has been able to establish itself as a successful international financial centre because it has created a business environment that is internationally competitive and well reputed.

Faugoo reminded the audience that Mauritius recently signed an intergovernmental agreement and a Tax Information Exchange Agreement with the USA with respect to the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) in order to improve its international tax compliance.

The Attorney General announced that the government is expecting a favourable final resolution at the end of the joint working group meeting on the double taxation avoidance agreement (DTAA) between Mauritius and India.

At the conference, the participants highlighted the considerable efforts that Mauritius has been putting in to achieve transparency in exchange of fiscal information.

Professor Roy Rohatgi, conference director of the International Taxation Conference organized by the Foundation for International Taxation (FIT) in Mumbai, noted that Africa is a promising region for Mauritius with its population of approximately one billion and its considerable natural resources.

“The Africa growth story is going to take off and I think that Mauritius can supply a whole range of professional services to the continent. As Africa presents huge potential for investments and business, Mauritius can act as a gateway to Africa,” said Rohatgi.

As for Uday Gujadhur, Director, ESSAR Mauritius, he stressed the importance of exchange of information.

“We are a responsible financial centre which is well regulated and where exchange of information is key. We are here since 2000 when we made our first commitment to the OECD on following the best tax practices globally. We know the importance of transparency, openness and interdependence among economies,” Gujadhur said.

The conference also aimed at promoting investments to Africa by using Mauritius as an access point for investors seeking to leverage the success story of the growing continent.

IFA (International Fiscal Association) is a 75-year-old non-governmental and non-sectorial international organisation dealing with fiscal matters. It counts more than 12,000 members in 90 countries.

Since its launch in 2004, IFA Mauritius has organized several regional conferences, consisting of presentations by eminent international tax experts on topics, planning ideas, and issues of current importance.

By Marie-Lorry Coret and Cecilia Samoisi

Image (Cecilia Samoisi/ AfricaMoney): Professor Roy Rohatgi noted that the Africa growth story is going to take off and that Mauritius can supply a whole range of professional services to the continent.

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