Singapore

French FDI in ASEAN Part I: Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam

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Editor: Thibaut Minot

The business environment of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has become increasingly favorable for foreign investment in recent years. 2014 was an exceptional year in terms of FDI, which gave way to a slightly less impressive  2015 despite significant FDI flows of about EUR102 billion (US$126.7 billion). FDI flows remained strong in the areas of finance and infrastructure and strengthened in the manufacturing sector. France’s FDI was no exception: the French FDI stock in ASEAN reached EUR17.4 billion (US$21.6 billion) at the end of 2015, with a penchant for large markets (Malaysia, more than EUR 104.7 million) and those with development prospects (Vietnam, more than EUR 81 million).

This is due to the willingness of governments in ASEAN states to promote foreign investment and the increasingly visible economic developments in the region. The weakening of the Chinese and Brazilian markets, the creation of the ASEAN Economic Community in December 2015, and the streamlining of the regulatory landscape greatly improved the perception of investors. Be it SMEs or multinationals, they now want to expand their presence in the economic region through the creation of various investment routes, production networks and regional headquarters. Despite being rich in opportunities, ASEAN remains a difficult region to define. It is therefore crucial to understand the different advantages and disadvantages that each country offers and to choose accordingly.

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Cambodia’s DTAs with Singapore and Thailand Come into Effect

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By Dezan Shira & Associates
Editor: Vasundhara Rastogi

On January 1, 2018, Cambodia’s two Double Tax Agreements (DTAs) – with Singapore and Thailand – came into effect. The DTA with Singapore – Cambodia’s first income tax treaty – was signed on March 20, 2017, whereas the DTA with Thailand was signed on September 7, 2017.  The two DTAs aim to clarify taxation rights on all forms of income arising from cross-border economic activities between the signatory jurisdictions in respect of tax on profit, including withholding tax, additional profit tax on dividend distribution and capital gains tax; and tax on salary while minimizing double taxation. The agreements also provide for reduction or exemption of tax on certain types of income, lowering barriers to cross-border investment and encouraging bilateral trade.  

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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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The Guide to Employment Permits for Foreign Workers in Singapore

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By Dezan Shira & Associates
Editor: Vasundhara Rastogi

ASB- Singapore Employment Permits (002)

For expatriate workers and their employers in Singapore, understanding the process to obtain a valid employment permit is vital. The Singapore government’s Ministry of Manpower (MoM) issues a wide range of work passes and permits to expatriates planning to work in Singapore. Each of these employment permits is designed for a specific purpose and differs across various categories of employees, based on their professional skills and monthly salaries.

Some of the most common employment permits issued by the government of Singapore are discussed below:

Employment Pass

The Employment Pass (EP) is issued to expatriates employed as foreign managers, executives, and skilled professionals in Singapore, for an initial period of 2 years; thereafter, the pass can be renewed for up to three years at a time. The EP is generally issued to individuals with a job offer that includes a minimum monthly salary of SG$3,600. More experienced candidates are required to be offered a higher salary to qualify for the same. However, according to a recent announcement made by the MoM, the monthly salary criteria for EP applicants will be raised to SG$6,000 with effect from January 1, 2018.

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Singapore’s Investment Outlook for 2018

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By: Vasundhara Rastogi

Singapore is consistently ranked as one of the easiest places to do business. It is one of the world’s top business destinations, characterized by a stable economy, easy regulations, and corruption-free environment. A leading business and financial center, Singapore is also geographically well placed, offering overseas investors a central location and easy access to the Asian market.

As a member of the ten-nation economic bloc – The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) -, it represents a significant proportion of the ASEAN free trade area and has several bilateral agreements with several countries in Asia and beyond. Overseas investors seeking to establish in Singapore can not only take advantage of the country’s extensive tax-treaty network but also use the city-state to tap into the ten-nation ASEAN’s growth potential. Further, the country ranks fourth in the world in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, offering a high potential market for businesses. It boasts of a modern and comprehensive infrastructure and a highly skilled workforce that can be a valuable reservoir of a skilled workforce for businesses.

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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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Payroll Outsourcing in Singapore: Allowing Companies to Focus on Regional Expansion in ASEAN

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By Dezan Shira & Associates

Although managing payroll in Singapore is a relatively less complex process than elsewhere in ASEAN, it is not without its inherent challenges given the city-state’s constantly evolving regulatory environment. While Singapore-based companies may find it challenging to keep track of the country’s changing social security, tax, and regulatory norms when computing payroll for its employees, those with operations in the wider ASEAN region are likely to find the task even more daunting.

When a company operates in multiple countries, its internal HR teams often struggle to stay updated with changing payroll regulations. Indeed, payroll regulations in emerging markets can change quickly and without proper notification. HR staff doing payroll without up-to-date information may, inadvertently, lead to issues of non-compliance. Non-compliance, even accidental, can invite unwanted scrutiny from authorities, heavy fines, and may negatively impact the morale of employees adversely affected. 

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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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Singapore’s Free Trade Agreement with Turkey Comes into Force

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By Dezan Shira & Associates
Editor: Vasundhara Rastogi

The much-awaited Turkey-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (TRSFTA) went into effect on October 1, this year. The agreement paves the way for freer movement of goods and services, and further investment opportunities between the two countries. The TRSFTA was first signed in November 2015 and covers a wide range of areas including goods and services, e-commerce, intellectual property rights, competition, and transparency.

According to the official press notification, tariffs for Singapore’s exports to Turkey on 80 percent of all tariff lines will be eliminated under the TRSFTA. The coverage will increase to more than 95 percent of all tariff lines over a period of 10 years.

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Singapore as a Payroll Processing Center for Companies in ASEAN

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By Dezan Shira & Associates

Editor: Bradley Dunseith

Located in the heart of South East Asia, Singapore is an attractive destination for centralizing payroll processing and wider regional HR functions for companies either entering ASEAN markets, or expanding their current operations. Singapore is well connected with all ASEAN member states and offers digital and communication infrastructure at global standards.

The high volume of regional headquarters already operating in Singapore makes the city-state an even more attractive destination for centralizing payroll.  Additionally, Singapore’s unique history makes the city-state well equipped to maneuver the cultural worlds of South East Asia, Europe, and North America – an important skill when collecting information from offices in Asia and communicating the information to regional and overseas headquarters.

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Dezan Shira & Associates

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