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Couchepin to raise social issues at OECD meeting

The Swiss economics minister, Pascal Couchepin, is in Paris this week for a meeting of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. Officials say Switzerland is expected to stress the need for sustainable economic and social development.

Among the issues likely to be raised at the two-day meeting, starting today, is tax evasion, and attempts by the European Union to combat money-laundering.

To coincide with the meeting, the OECD is expected to publish a list of tax-havens in an increasingly hard-hitting drive to clamp down on big banking centres which thrive off investments by foreigners evading tax. The report will serve as a warning list and give those identified one year to change their policies.

Last week, an international report by the Financial Action Task Force listed 15 countries for failing to deal sufficiently with money-laundering. Switzerland, which maintains tight banking secrecy regulations, was not among the countries named.

Although the issue is likely to figure prominently during the meeting, the OECD is expected to look at ways of stabilising the world markets, following last year's crises in Asia and Russia.

The conference is also an important step towards a new round of world trade talks, organised by the Geneva-based World Trade Organisation, says the Swiss economics ministry.

The ministry said economic growth, technological advance and trade issues would be to the fore.

Swiss officials said Couchepin is likely to press for measures to ensure that the balance between social, economic and environmental concerns is maintained as the world economy expands.

swissinfo with agencies



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