China & Hong Kong

ASEAN-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement Signed

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By Dezan Shira & Associates
Editor: Vasundhara Rastogi

ASB- ASEAN-Hong Kong FTA (002)

On November 12, 2017, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China signed a free trade and investment pact to strengthen economic cooperation between the two regions and stimulate economic development. The two agreements, the ASEAN-Hong Kong, China Free Trade Agreement (AHKFTA) and the ASEAN-Hong Kong Investment Agreement (AHKIA), were signed at the 31st ASEAN Summit in Manila and will come into force on January 1, 2019.

The agreements cover all aspects of trade in goods, such as tariffs; rules of origin; non-tariff measures; customs procedures and trade facilitation; trade remedies; technical barriers to trade; and sanitary and phytosanitary measures. They also include elements related to trade in services; investment; economic and technical co-operation; dispute settlement mechanism; and other areas of interests to be mutually agreed upon by the two parties. Chris Devonshire-Ellis of Dezan Shira & Associates comments: “This FTA brings Hong Kong into parity with mainland China which has had an FTA with ASEAN for several years. Hong Kong’s unique mix of China and Asian focused financial services and regional service support are a great mix with ASEAN’s overall reach and this agreement provides a much needed boost to Hong Kong’s overall attractiveness as an investment destination for Asia.” 

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The Philippines and Hong Kong – Trade and Economic Relations

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Op/ed by Bob Shead

Hong Kong is the nearest major international city to Manila, and just one and half hour away by flight from the Philippine capital.  The related sea trade routes, across the South China Sea, are always busy and form part of the China Economic Silk Route.  Since the handover of Hong Kong to Mainland China in 1997, the territory has maintained its trade and economic separation from China, under the 50 year, One Country Two Systems, handover agreement.

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The Philippines’ Economic and Political Relations With China

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Op-ed by Bob Shead

The focus of this article is a very complicated but important regional issue in ASEAN – the current state of the economic, trade and political relations between the Philippines and the Peoples Republic of China.  The election of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016 has in fact changed the strategy and effects of this relationship.  Last year, this relationship was described by the Huffington Post, as the most toxic in Asia, when Duterte’s predecessor, President Aquino was in charge.   However, since President Duterte took office last year, he has extended a hand of economic and political cooperation to China, and his official visit to Beijing last October, was an economically productive visit as it was formative in securing investment and credit line pledges that amounted to approximately US$ 24 billion in business and trade deals for the Philippines. 

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Donald Trump in the White House: Implications for the Future of the TPP and Free Trade in ASEAN

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By Dezan Shira & Associates

US president-elect Donald Trump’s opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is well-known and the future of the trade deal is now on tenterhooks. For the supporters of the TPP, Trump’s victory has meant that their worst fears are now going to unfold. Opponents of the trade deal are rejoicing at their expectation that Trump will now move quickly to fulfill one of his most controversial campaign promises – to abandon the TPP. Any prospects of the US renegotiating the TPP are not only bleak but also impractical – the trade deal was seven years in the making, meticulously negotiated and involved compromises from several countries on both sides of the Pacific.

Professional Service_CB icons_2015RELATED: Pre Investment and Market Entry Advisory from Dezan Shira & Associates

Implications for ASEAN

So now if the US does ultimately withdraw from the TPP, what implications will this have for free trade in the ASEAN region? Before analyzing this, it should be kept in mind that TPP’s potential failure is unlikely to have any significant immediate economic impact on the region. It was not a trade deal in force, but only offered prospects of newer free trade rules coming into effect in the near future. Instead of being a step backwards, it is more a lack of further progress as far as development of free trade in the region is concerned.

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The State of ASEAN M&As in 2016

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By: Dezan Shira & Associates
Editor: Maxfield Brown

In its most recent investment report for 2016, ASEAN has focused heavily upon the intertwined issues of mergers and acquisitions (M&A). The report sheds light on the use of these tools by international investors as well as states within the bloc, providing insight on sentiment of varying parties. For those seeking to enter the region for the first time, understanding these trends is sure to provide important insight in the formation of effective entry and expansion strategy.

Mergers & Acquisitions

While foreign direct investment is often directed towards establishing new operations within a given country, M&As involve the purchase of or integration with a local company. This can present a number of benefits to investors stemming from the preexisting structure, connections, and reputation of the local company’s business. With a preexisting workforce, facilities, and supply chain, the M&A process allows companies to tap into market opportunities in real time. This can prove to be a important tool for those seeking to enter the market before their competition or gain access to sectors with limited access to investment. 

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Successfully Resolving Commercial Disputes: An Overview of Arbitration in ASEAN

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Arbitration SingaporeBy: Marquise Clarke

International arbitration centers have become the preferred location for the resolution of corporate disputes in ASEAN. The use of these centers is preferred due to their affordability, speed, privacy, and neutrality. As investors ramp up investment in ASEAN or enter the region for the first time, understanding where international arbitration is available and how to access it can provide significant protection from regulatory uncertainty. 

In recent years there has been substantial economic growth and development among emerging markets within the ASEAN region. Within most jurisdictions, the increase in development, along with transnational transactions creates a high chance that commercial disputes will increase, in terms of both quantity and complexity. Any foreign investor thinking about investing in the ASEAN region should therefore carefully think about what options are open to them if commercial disputes do occur.

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Singapore Overtakes Hong Kong as Asia’s Top Financial Hub

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Singapore VS Hong KongBy Alexander Chipman Koty

Singapore has overtaken Hong Kong as the top financial hub in Asia, according to Z/Yen Group’s Global Financial Centers Index (GFCI). Hong Kong slipped to fourth place overall, while Singapore now only trails London and New York globally. Although the two financial centers are essentially neck and neck – Singapore scoring 755 points out of 1000 and Hong Kong 752 – the shift is indicative of a wider trend of optimism towards Singapore and uncertainty facing Hong Kong.

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ASEAN Regulatory Brief: Foreign Ownership in Indonesia, Burmese Tax Policy, and Scrapped Visa Requirements in Malaysia

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Indonesia: Foreign Ownership Laws in Power, E-commerce Other Sectors Relaxed

Franky Sibarani, head of Indonesia’s Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM), said on February 3 that the country will relax foreign ownership rules in three sectors. These sectors include power, e-commerce and retail. The new changes are a part of review by the BKPM on the “negative investment list”, which list a few sectors where Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is restricted.

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AEC in Practice – What Can Foreign Investors Do Now?

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By: Mareike Entzian

Much like the European Union, the ASEAN Economic Community is founded on several unchanging pillars. The community is supposed to create a single market and production base, support one another in increasing competitiveness, close gaps of an economic nature and other disparities, and to further integrate with the global economy. 

In a previous article , we laid out the relationship between ASEAN’s largest markets and Germany, and we will now explain what investors can do to act on this potential. In a survey conducted by Germany Trade and Invest, German firms operating within ASEAN indicate that they are excited by new opportunities presented by the AEC and are ready to seize them. However, unlike their invested counterparts, companies not yet operating in the region continue to register reservations about committing capital. This hesitance has led German firms to fall behind other competitors, such as Japan, who have been successfully leveraging tariff removals and other benfits of found within the region.

To understand the AEC, it is paramount to be aware of its geopolitical background as well its fundamental differences to the European Union. Once it is clear that, although on paper the AEC looks like the European Union, it remains a long way from the EU’s level of integration, it becomes clear what investors can do to operate successfully.

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ASEAN and China Continue Negotiations on Expanded FTA

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ASEAN and China have announced that they expect to complete their negotiations on an expanded free trade agreement (FTA) by November of this year. The announcement was made on August 23 during the 47th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Economic Ministers’ Meeting. During the recent gathering, the economic ministers of the ASEAN nations met with China’s Minister of Commerce, Gao Hucheng.

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