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An Introduction to Doing Business in ASEAN 2017

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By: Dezan Shira & Associates

An Introduction to Doing Business in ASEAN 2017, the latest publication from Dezan Shira & Associates, is out now and available for complimentary download through the Asia Briefing Publication Store.

What happens in and around ASEAN is one of the key factors increasingly impacting upon China and India trade flows, as well as the rest of Asia. While the ASEAN trade bloc has been in existence since 1967, it has really shown its importance in trade and commercial business flows since the rise of China over the past three decades, and through its response to China’s changing domestic demographics. Those changes – an aging and increasingly consumer demanding China – have been skillfully adapted by ASEAN to place the future of global manufacturing, and where it takes place, firmly within its own orbit.

Simply put, free trade agreements that came into effect with China and India in 2010 changed the face of Asian trade and production, and are continuing to do so. For example, bilateral trade figures between China and ASEAN’s Big Five of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand have multiplied by factors of 500 percent since the agreement was signed. With the smaller ASEAN nations of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam coming into line with their own compliance of ASEAN customs duty reductions at the end of 2015, the entire bloc offers close to zero import-export tariffs for much of emerging Asia, including the giant markets of China and India, possessing some 500 million middle class consumers between them. ASEAN therefore represents a massive trade bloc possessing free trade agreements of global strategic importance. The question of accessing ASEAN for the benefit of North American, European and other global purchasing and manufacturing executives is a key function of this report.

An Introduction to Doing Business in ASEAN introduces the fundamentals of investing in the 10-nation ASEAN bloc, concentrating on economics, trade, corporate establishment and taxation. We also include the latest development news in our “Important Updates” section for each country, with the intent to provide an executive assessment of the varying component parts of ASEAN, assessing each member state and providing the most up-to-date economic and demographic data on each. Additional research and commentary on ASEAN’s relationships with China, India and Australia is also provided.

Includes:

  • An introduction to ASEAN 
  • Country profiles
  • Case studies: ASEAN as a platform for Asian growth

Our practice, Dezan Shira & Associates, has taken giant steps into the ASEAN market through the establishment of offices throughout the region, in addition to the creation of a unique alliance of firms. That, coupled with our existing long experience of handling foreign investment into China and India, puts us in a unique position of truly understanding how Asia works and how to maximize its free trade benefits.


About
 Us

Asia Briefing Ltd. is a subsidiary of Dezan Shira & Associates. Dezan Shira is a specialist foreign direct investment practice, providing corporate establishment, business advisory, tax advisory and compliance, accounting, payroll, due diligence and financial review services to multinationals investing in China, Hong Kong, India, Vietnam, Singapore and the rest of ASEAN. For further information, please email asean@dezshira.com or visit www.dezshira.com.

Stay up to date with the latest business and investment trends in Asia by subscribing to our complimentary update service featuring news, commentary and regulatory insight.

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Related-Reading-Asean Book Title

dsa brochureDezan Shira & Associates Brochure
Dezan Shira & Associates is a pan-Asia, multi-disciplinary professional services firm, providing legal, tax and operational advisory to international corporate investors. Operational throughout China, ASEAN and India, our mission is to guide foreign companies through Asia’s complex regulatory environment and assist them with all aspects of establishing, maintaining and growing their business operations in the region. This brochure provides an overview of the services and expertise Dezan Shira & Associates can provide.


an_introduction_to_doing_business_in_asean_2017_-_image
An Introduction to Doing Business in ASEAN 2017
An Introduction to Doing Business in ASEAN 2017 introduces the fundamentals of investing in the 10-nation ASEAN bloc, concentrating on economics, trade, corporate establishment, and taxation. We also include the latest development news for each country, with the intent to provide an executive assessment of the varying component parts of ASEAN, assessing each member state and providing the most up-to-date economic and demographic data on each.



Human Resources in ASEANHuman Resources in ASEAN
In this issue of ASEAN Briefing, we discuss the prevailing structure of ASEAN’s labor markets and outline key considerations regarding wages and compliance at all levels of the value chain. We highlight comparative sentiment on labor markets within the region, showcase differences in cost and compliance between markets, and provide insight on the state of statutory social insurance obligations throughout the bloc. 

Thailand’s New Personal Income Tax Structure Comes Into Effect

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By Dezan Shira & Associates
Editor: Alexander Chipman Koty

Thailand’s updated personal income tax (PIT) structure officially came into effect on January 1, 2017, with the aim to ease tax burdens and boost disposable income. The revision, Revenue Code Amendment Act (No 44) BE 2560, was gazetted on January 27, officially instituting the changes. The new rates apply for all income collected as of January 1 for filing in 2018. The revised income tax scheme was initially approved by the Thai Royal Cabinet on April 19, 2016.

The new structure revises the income tax bands subject to 30 percent and 35 percent tax, and increases deductibles, and doubles allowances. The lower income tax bands and their respective rates remain unchanged. The revision also raises the minimum thresholds for mandatory tax filing.

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Thailand in 2017: a Changing Investment Landscape

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By Harry Handley

Bangkok2016 was a challenging year for Thailand, both economically and socially. The death of the much-loved King, His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej, clouded a year also blighted by political instability, water shortages, and bearish domestic business sentiment. Although official figures have yet to be released, Thailand’s GDP growth for 2016 is expected to be 3.2 percent, the third lowest in the ASEAN bloc (after Brunei and Singapore).

Despite low business confidence from locals, foreign businesses continue to be attracted by Thailand’s strategic position between China and India, access to the ASEAN free trade area, and the incentives offered by the Board of Investment (BOI). 2017 has been touted by some as a pivotal year for the Thai economy and ‘the year of concrete national reform’, with a major election on the horizon, either at the end of 2017 or the beginning of 2018 dependent of the progress of the royal succession. As such, it is important to review the state of the market at present and identify the key factors that may affect foreign businesses, both incumbents and potential entrants, in Thailand in 2017.

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ASEAN Market Watch: e-Commerce in Thailand, Q4 Growth in Indonesia, and Myanmar-Thailand Bilateral Agreements

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Thailand: Strong growth expected in e-commerce market

Analysts say that Thailand’s e-commerce market is expected to grow around 20 percent this year as more consumers shop online. At present, only three percent of consumers shop online, underlining the significant growth potential for the online market. Thai retailer Central Group only had one percent of its revenue come from online sales. The increased online sales expected this year are attributed to growing internet and smartphone use as well as improved logistics and e-payment systems. Quality and reliability of online shopping services will further help the sector.

The Electronic Transactions Development Agency predicted that the e-commerce market in Thailand will be worth US$7.1 billion (THB 2.52 trillion) this year. Thailand has around 41 million internet users, and 41 million Facebook, 33 million Line, 7.8 million Instagram, and 5.3 million Twitter users. Analysts have further stated that omni-channel strategies, meaning a balance between physical retail stores and online shops, would benefit the country.

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Making Sense of Thailand’s Foreign Business Act

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By Dezan Shira & Associates
Editor: Harry Handley

Following Thailand’s 2014 coup, there were suggestions that the incoming military-led government would implement protectionist policies that would restrict investment into the country by foreign firms. However, in the years that followed there was a significant shift in the outlook of Thailand’s leaders. Barriers were lowered and restrictions reduced in a number of industries; this resulted in over US$9 billion of inward foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2015.

Research from the Economist Intelligence Unit suggests that Thailand will continue to encourage inward investment over the next few years in order to push the economy towards high income status. This is highlighted by recent amendments made (and further amendments scheduled for 2017) to the Foreign Business Act – the predominant legislation governing foreign investment in Thailand. This article will outline the key points of the Foreign Business Act, including the recent update, and what this means for potential entrants.

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ASEAN Regulatory Brief: Indonesia Transfer Pricing Rules, Singapore-Laos Cooperation, and Thailand 4.0 Strategies for SOEs

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Indonesia: New rules for transfer pricing

The Indonesian government approved a new Minister of Finance regulation, MoF 213/2016, on new rules for transfer pricing documentation, effective January 2017. The new decree stipulates that firms doing cross-border transactions with affiliates must prepare transfer pricing documents detailing their global structure and payments. The move aims to match global standards and curb tax avoidance. Multinationals with annual turnover of at least US$822.74 million (IDR 11 trillion) must prepare a country-by-country (CbC) report with information about their affiliates, revenue, profits, income tax paid in different jurisdictions, retained earnings, and assets. The companies are also required to prepare a master file and a local file, which should include its Indonesian company details, structure, assets, and transactions.

Companies with annual gross revenue of more than US$377,000 (IDR 50 billion) or accumulated transactions of more than US$150,800 (IDR 20 billion) for tangible assets and US$37,700 (IDR 5 billion) for intangible assets need to prepare only the master and local files. Transactions with tax residents in countries with a lower statuary rate than that of Indonesia’s 25 percent are also required to prepare the master and local files. The government is also offering companies to settle previous tax disputes by paying a penalty under an amnesty program until March 2017.

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ASEAN Market Watch: Indonesia Foreign Ownership Rules, Philippines Internet Speeds, and Thailand Manufacturing

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Indonesia: Foreign ownership in digital payment companies reduced

Indonesia’s central bank, Bank Indonesia, has reduced foreign ownership in local companies that offer electronic payment services. As per Regulation No. 18/40/PBI/2016, effective on November 9, foreign ownership in such companies has been reduced to a 20 percent stake on the Operation of Payment Transaction Processing. This applies to companies that operate as card providers or offer switching, clearing, or settlement services for electronic payments.

The regulation does not retroactively apply to existing companies. Rather, companies in the digital payments sector, existing companies that expand into the sector, and existing companies in the sector that change ownership will have to abide by the new rules. Apart from this, other rules apply, such as e-wallet service providers that have 300,000 users will need to obtain a Service Provider license from Bank Indonesia.

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The Guide to Thailand’s Import and Export Procedures

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By Dezan Shira & Associates
Editor: Harry Handley

Thailand portSince the implementation of the Foreign Business Act of 1999, foreign businesses set up in a range of industries in Thailand must have a Thai majority shareholder. One line of business that is exempt from this is import/export trading. This exemption, along with developed infrastructure and a solid legal framework, have made Thailand a hub for cross-border traders. In 2015, US$212 billion of goods were exported from Thailand, the 22nd highest value in the world. Imports in the same year totaled US$177 billion, making Thailand the world’s 25th largest importer.

According to the World Bank, the time and cost of both importing and exporting in Thailand is significantly lower than the average for neighboring countries in the East Asia and Pacific region. In recent years, import/export procedures have been streamlined further through the implementation of the online e-Customs system. This electronic system provides a one-stop service for all stakeholders in cross-border trade. Procedures such as issuing licenses and paying duties and taxes have been made paperless and can be completed using the central e-Customs system.

Once a company has been set up in Thailand, including Value Added Tax (VAT) registration and corporate bank account establishment, the import and export processes can begin. This article will outline the procedures required when trading goods to and from Thailand.

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Daily Minimum Wage Rates in Thailand to Increase from January 1, 2017

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By Zolzaya Erdenebileg

The Thai cabinet on November 22, 2016 approved the recommendations of the Central Wage Committee to increase the daily minimum wage rates by an additional five to 10 Thai Baht (THB) for 69 provinces with effect from January 1, 2017.

This will be the first adjustment in the country’s minimum wage rates since January 1, 2013. Currently, the minimum wage is THB 300 (US$8.39) per day across the country. The current minimum wage rate will be maintained in the eight provinces of Sing Buri, Chumphon, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Ranong, Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala.

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ASEAN Market Watch: Malaysia Tourism, Thailand’s Railway Network, and Laos’ Economic Growth Forecast

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Malaysia: Incentives on Offer to Attract More Chinese Tourists

After the Philippines, Malaysia is all set to lure Chinese tourists with a raft of initiatives. Earlier this year, Malaysia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba, which allows Chinese consumers to access Malaysian tourism and services on its website. In addition, the Malaysian government launched an e-visa programme to ease entry restriction for Chinese tourists. At present, the government allows visa-free entry for Chinese tourists staying for 15 days or less.

China currently has the largest outbound tourism market. In 2015, around 120 million Chinese nationals traveled abroad, with Malaysia a key destination. Chinese tourists to Malaysia were 1.68 million in 2015, a 4 percent increase from the previous year. In 2016, inbound traffic from China continued to increase. This is shown by an upsurge in the number of flights. For example, AirAsia has increased weekly flights from Beijing and Shanghai to Kuala Lumpur. The government has set a target of bringing 30.5 million visitors by the end of 2016. Other initiatives include investing in transport infrastructure. A high-speed rail service between Malaysia and Singapore is expected to be completed in 2026. An integrated transport system is also planned in Penang which is expected to increase tourist activity.

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