US/AUSTRALIA - The US and Australia have signed a landmark agreement to liberalise rules governing stock exchanges and broker-dealers, allowing them to operate in both jurisdictions without being separately regulated.
Christopher Cox, chairman of the SEC, hailed the deal as a "significant milestone" in international finance and said: "An important part of this arrangement is strengthening the ability of the SEC and ASIC to cooperate with each other in our enforcement and supervisory efforts, thereby enhancing the integrity of both our markets."
The agreement could allow US-based stock brokers and exchange to offer services to Australian investors without being subject to most ASIC regulations, and vice versa. Australia was the first country to request such an agreement with the US.
Speaking to Australia's ABC radio, Nick Sherry, minister for superannuation and corporate law, said: "[The agreement] cuts out red tape compliance, reduces cost for Australians and reduces cost for US investors.
"Importantly, this is also the first time that the US has recognised any other country's jurisdiction in the world. We are the first. They've recognised that Australia does have a reliable regulatory framework in securities trading such that the US will recognise Australia's robustness and regulatory oversight."
The move was welcomed by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), which represents more than 650 securities firms, banks and asset managers across the world.
Ira Hammerman, general counsel, SIFMA, commented: "The often-conflicting financial services regulations issued by each nation create an ever-shifting, three-dimensional maze for firms and investors that navigate global finance.
"With this inaugural agreement, we have a groundbreaking map that will improve market access between the US and Australia, and perhaps as importantly, serve as a model for cooperation with additional, non-US regulators."
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