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Panama, Japan aim to exchange tax-related information

[TOKYO] Panama and Japan agreed on an early start of talks aimed at creating a bilateral framework for exchanging taxation-related information, Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday.

The announcement comes after the leak of thousands of confidential documents from a Panamanian law firm earlier this month highlighted Panama's failure to cooperate in international efforts to clamp down on tax evasion by the rich and powerful.

"Let me reconfirm the Panamanian government's responsible engagement with and commitment to transparency in the financial system," Mr Varela told a joint news conference in Spanish. "As I said in a speech made in the UN General Assembly last September, Panama intends to move toward bilateral, automatic exchange of taxation information."

Mr Abe welcomed the agreement as a step toward improved transparency in bilateral taxation-related information, although he told Mr Varela in their meeting that it was important to address the issue of international tax evasion in a multilateral framework.

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