Union Finance Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee said that there is a need for transparent arrangement with a legal framework for exchange of information between India and Philippines relating to banking and tax related matters. The Finance Minister Shri Mukherjee raised this issue during his bilateral meeting with his Philippines’ counterpart Mr. Cesar V. Purisima when the later called on him, here today. Negotiations are already on for revising the Convention between the two countries for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes and Income. The Finance Minister Shri Mukherjee hoped that this Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement may be signed in January next year.

The Finance Minister Shri Mukherjee also expressed his satisfaction at the issuance of notification by both countries operationalising the India-ASEAN FTA on Trade in Goods w.e.f. 1st June, 2011. The Finance Minister Shri Mukherjee stated that there is a steady growth of bilateral trade which has increased from US$ 443.63 million in 2003-04 to US$ 1061.84 million in 2009-10. He said that bilateral trade will certainly increase even further with the scaling down of tariff lines by both the countries under the India ASEAN FTA on Trade in Goods.

The Finance Minister Shri Mukherjee said that the Indian side would be happy to further strengthen the banking links between the two countries. He said that the State Bank of India has already proposed for opening a branch in Manila. He said that India would welcome a conducive environment for stronger banking links between the two countries.

The Philippines’ Finance Secretary, Mr. Purisima said that he would take up the matter with concerned Department back home in order to expedite the finalization of DTAA between the two countries. He also said that role of ADB now needs to be revisited in the light of changes in the status of different member countries over the years. Mr. Purisima said that there is a lot of potentials for further strengthening of relations and cooperation between the two countries especially in the field of education, tourism and manufacturing sector among others. He also endorsed the views of Shri Mukherjee for establishment of stronger banking links between the two countries. He thanked the Union Finance Minister Shri Mukherjee for his contribution in the development of this region and invited him to visit Philippines in near future.

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