Legal & Regulatory

Indonesia Eases Tax Holiday Policy for New FDI Projects

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ASEAN Regulatory BriefBy Dezan Shira & Associates

In a bid to attract more investment to support the country’s economic growth, Indonesia recently issued a new regulation granting a 100 percent Corporate Income Tax (CIT) cut to new FDI-backed businesses.

Further, the new regulation grants tax holidays to new investors in any of the 17 pioneer industries including transportation, telecommunications, robotic components, oil and gas refinery, train engines, medical devices, pharmaceutical raw materials, power plant machinery, and processing of metals and agricultural products among others. Pioneer industries are those that create added value, introduce advanced technology and have strategic value for the national economy. Previously, the provision was available to only eight such industries.

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Managing Trade Secrets in Thailand

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By: South-East Asia IPR SME Helpdesk

ASEAN Briefing-Managing Trade Secrets in Thailand (003)

Trade secrets are a highly valuable form of intellectual property that nearly all businesses in all industries and sectors possess. However, they are frequently overlooked by businesses, partly because there is confusion about what actually constitutes a trade secret. So what is a trade secret?

According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), any confidential business information that is of considerable commercial value to businesses and that provides an enterprise with a competitive edge may be considered a trade secret. In practice, this could be:

  • sales methods
  • distribution methods
  • consumer profiles
  • advertising plans
  • pricing strategies
  • lists of suppliers and clients
  • manufacturing processes

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IP Considerations in Singapore’s Healthcare and Medical Technologies Sector

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By: South-East Asia IPR SME Helpdesk

Underpinned by both rising disposable income and progressively aging population, Singapore offers various promising business opportunities to European SMEs engaged in the healthcare and medical technologies sectors, whose topnotch technology is increasingly sought after. Furthermore, Singapore’s healthcare expenditure is expected to grow about 10 percent by 2020 and the government is committed to offering better healthcare to its citizens as it has dedicated a budget of EUR 2.64 billion to developing the health and biomedical sciences sector in Singapore over the next five years.[1]

European SMEs who are engaged in developing medical diagnostics tools, especially in the areas of immunochemistry, point-of-care devices, and molecular diagnostics, or developing medical solutions catered towards functional ageing and fighting obesity-related and chronic diseases, can expect to find plenty of business opportunities in Singapore, as these areas are currently developing fastest in the country. Similarly, SMEs that are engaged in digital dentistry, can expect to find promising business opportunities, as there is a rising interest in digital dentistry in Singapore.[2] As Singapore aspires to become Asia’s digital healthcare hub, European SMEs can also use Singapore as a gateway to other South-East Asian countries, whose demand for healthcare technologies is similar to Singapore.

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Myanmar’s New Companies Law

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By Dezan Shira & Associates
Editor: Vasundhara Rastogi

ASB- Singapore Employment Permits - Part II

On December 6, 2017, Myanmar’s President U Htin Kyaw approved the new Myanmar Companies Act, 2017, replacing the country’s century-old Companies Act of 1914. The new law aims to change the way companies are regulated in the country. It will modernize company formation and management, and significantly revise corporate governance in Myanmar, bringing the country’s company legislation at par with international standards.

The Act was drafted by Myanmar’s Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) with technical assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). It offers a wide range of regulations that are relevant to foreign investors and businesses operating in Myanmar. Some of these are discussed below.

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Proposed Changes to Singapore’s Patent Regime

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By: South-East Asia IPR SME Helpdesk

Singapore is currently in the process of amending its patent regime.  Major amendments concern the examination guidelines on isolated products from nature; third party observations; patent re-examination option; the examination guidelines on the new patents grace period and amendments to Patents Rules concerning patentable subject matter and supplementary examination. The aim of these proposed amendments is improving Singapore’s patent regime and further increasing the confidence of stakeholders and investors in Singapore’s patent regime[1].

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Top Three IPR Mistakes that SMEs Should Avoid in Southeast Asia

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By: South-East Asia IPR SME Helpdesk

A wide range of foreign industries are now looking to Southeast Asia not just to take advantage of an abundance of cheap labor for production of goods for export, but also to tap into new consumer markets formed from a growing middle class population. While these opportunities can lead to substantial returns for Western, including European businesses, via both the production and sales side, the less developed nature of business-related legislation means the dangers of intellectual property (IP) infringement are often great.

There are very few SMEs who would not take the issue of intellectual property rights (IPR) seriously in their business strategies, nevertheless there are some issues that are commonly overlooked and can even lead to commercial disaster. Here we take a look, in no particular order, at the top three IPR mistakes SMEs make.

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Thailand’s New Customs Act: A Relief for Importers and Exporters

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By Dezan Shira & Associates
Editor: Vasundhara Rastogi

In May 2017, the government of Thailand published a new Customs Act B.E. 2560 (2017) in the country’s National Gazette, repealing the outdated and controversial Customs Act B.E. 2469 (1926). The new Act, scheduled to come into force from November 13, 2017, will herald a new era in customs and excise control in Thailand. With an aim to modernize Thailand’s customs law, the revised Act will significantly ease customs procedure and bring transparency in the country’s customs law. The changes will remove ambiguities present in the existing law and bring it closer to the international best practices in line with Thailand’s current free trade agreements. The agents and businesses involved in importing, exporting and the manufacturing of excisable goods in Thailand will greatly benefit from the new law.

Among the most notable changes introduced in the new act are a reduction in incentives and rewards to whistleblowers, clarification of customs offenses and reduction of statutory penalties, elimination of liability presumptions, and the imposition of deadlines for post-clearance audits and appeals, among others. In this article, we take a closer look at the key changes introduced in the new Customs Act, 2017.

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Singapore’s Patent Law: What You Need to Know

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By: South-East Asia IPR SME Helpdesk

Singapore and the EU: a background for SMEs

The Republic of Singapore is a leading global city-state and island country in Southeast Asia, lying off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. As one of the original four ‘Asian Tigers’ Singapore is a world leader in several economic areas, the world’s fourth leading financial centre, and the only Asian country to receive a AAA credit rating from all three major credit rating agencies[1]. Singapore is widely known as one of the freest, most innovative, and most competitive economies in the world. It is also widely accepted as a business friendly trade hub, with the World Bank naming Singapore the easiest place in the world to do business[2]. Out of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Singapore is Europe’s largest trading partner and 15th largest trading partner worldwide.

The Singaporean Intellectual Property (IP) legal framework is very comprehensive and is generally considered to be one of the most thorough in Asia. Singapore is a member of the following international conventions regulating IP matters[3]:

  • The Madrid Agreement concerning the International Registration of Marks
  • The Patent Cooperation treaty
  • The WIPO Copyright Treaty
  • The NICE Agreement concerning the International Classification of Goods and services
  • The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works

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Singapore’s Inward Re-Domiciliation Regime: What You Need to Know

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By Dezan Shira & Associates
Editor: Vasundhara Rastogi

One of the key amendments to the Singapore Companies Act, the inward re-domiciliation regime came into effect on October 11, 2017. The amendment allows foreign companies to relocate their business headquarters to Singapore instead of setting up subsidiaries, without losing their corporate history or brand identity. This means that a foreign company located outside of Singapore may become a registered Singapore private company limited by shares, domiciled in Singapore and continue its operations under the laws of Singapore; the company need not wind up its business activities and set up a new company in Singapore. Re-domiciliation in Singapore does not create a new legal entity. It also does not affect the property, rights or obligations of the foreign company, or affect any legal proceedings by or against the foreign company.

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Malaysian Labor Contracts: What You Need to Know

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By: Dezan Shira & Associates

Editor: Bradley Dunseith

ASB- Malaysian Labor Contracts (002)

Malaysia continues to be an attractive FDI destination in South East Asia, offering foreign investors a skilled workforce at competitive rates. However, in the regional context, as Chet Scheltema, Regional Director of Dezan Shira & Associates, notes, “historic sensitivity to abusive labor practices, and in some cases combined with the influence of litigious jurisprudence, has led to an environment where foreign investors are advised to tread cautiously and lay a solid foundation for human resources management, lest they run afoul of local labor laws or trigger costly labor disputes. One pillar of this firm foundation is typically a well-crafted employment contract.”

As such, Malaysia as well as some of its fellow members within ASEAN, including Indonesia and Vietnam, distinguish themselves by mandating a formal, written labor contract signed by the parties. When drafted with a strong understanding of Malaysia’s regulatory landscape and labor laws, these formal contracts can serve as an opportunity for foreign investors to establish a firm foundation for human resources management in the country.

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