« Go back

HONG KONG: Hong Kong's golden visa scheme revised and relaunched


Hong Kong's golden visa scheme revised and relaunched


The New CIES (New Capital Investment Entrant Scheme) is a strategic initiative revamped on 1 March 2024 by the Hong Kong Government aiming to attract high-net-worth individuals, encouraging them to invest and settle in the city. The scheme is comparable to ‘Golden Visa’ schemes, as offered by other countries. By leveraging Hong Kong’s strong position as a global financial hub, the New CIES aims to enhance economic growth, foster wealth management, and strengthen the city’s competitive edge. Please read the full article HERE.

Your point of contact in Hong Kong: Stefan Schmierer

Ravenscroft & Schmierer

22nd Floor, Bupa Centre
141 Connaught Road West
Hong Kong, SAR

CELL    +852 9229 6603
TEL      +852 2388 3899
FAX      +852 2385 2696


INDIA: Free-Trade Agreement between India and EFTA


Free-Trade Agreement between India and EFTA


In recent years, India has become more active in negotiating and concluding international trade agreements. Two years ago, in 2022, so-called “comprehensive economic cooperation/partnership agreements” were concluded with Australia and the United Arab Emirates, respectively.

Now, in March 2024, India concluded a “Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement” with EFTA, the European trading bloc formed by Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein. Inter alia, the agreement is to phase out all customs on Indian industrial products and reduce and eliminate customs on many industrial products from the EFTA countries.

Interestingly, the agreement also provides for “investment promotion”: the EFTA states shall aim to increase FDI into India by USD 50 billion within ten years and by another USD 50 billion by another five years and to facilitate the generation of one million jobs in India in this period—failing which India may ultimately suspend the concessions made to EFTA, esp. concerning customs. It will be interesting to see how this will develop.

At the same time, trade talks between India and the European Union are still ongoing. How helpful the accord with EFTA may be, it appears open.

Your contact person in India: Dr. Jörg Schendel

Suman Khaitan & Co.

W-13, West Wing, Greater Kailash Part-II
Delhi 110048, Indien

CELL         +91 97 11 08 04 03
TEL +91 11 49 50 15 00
FAX +91 11 49 50 15 99


JAPAN: 5 years Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and Japan


5 years Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and Japan


February 1, 2024 marked the fifth anniversary of the conclusion of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and Japan. To mark the occasion, the European Commission Representation in Japan hosted a ceremony to celebrate the EPO on February 5, 2024.

The EPA reduced the majority of tariffs and in some cases eliminated them completely. The agricultural, food and beverage sectors in particular benefited from this on both sides of the EPA.

However, the respective markets also opened up to each other in the services sector, which means, for example, that European companies can participate in public tender procedures in Japan and vice versa.

Overall, the EPA has created one of the largest economic zones in the world, accounting for 30 percent of global GDP.

At the 29th EU-Japan Summit in July 2023, the two agreement partners once again drew positive feedback from the EPA. Since the EPA came into force, there has been a 20 % increase in trade in goods and a 34 % increase in agricultural and food trade.

The EPA also agreed to harmonize admission requirements in certain sectors, which was particularly important in the food sector. In this context, ADWA's Mueller Foreign Law Office was commissioned by the a German manufacturer to obtain approval for a food additive, which was achieved in 2020 with an approval for Japan.

Your point of contact in Japan: Michael Müller

Mueller Foreign Law Office

Shin-Kasumigaseki Building
3-3-2 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo 100-0013, Japan

TEL       +81 3 6805 5161
FAX       +81 3 6805 5162


JAPAN: Japan increases pressure on app store giants


Draft bill modeled after EU DMA, fines of up to 30 percent of annual app store revenue?


Japan's competition regulator, the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC), has drafted a bill introducing new rules for app store giants. The Commission aims to submit its proposal for a “Smartphone Software Competition Promotion Act” to parliament within this month. If the proposed bill passes into law, companies like Apple or Google could face severely increased penalties from as early as 2025.

Unlike under current antitrust legislation, the bill would introduce preventive prohibitions of certain acts, such as preventing the market access of other app store or payment system providers, or preventing the deletion of preinstalled apps, etc.

Tech giants could be fined up to 20 percent of their annual revenue in the respective field in Japan (or even up to 30 percent in case of repeated contraventions) if they violate the proposed rules (instead of only 6 percent under current legislation). The new bill is perceived to be directed towards Apple and Google, which are being criticized for preventing the introduction of third-party app stores into their respective smartphone ecosystems.

The bill is arguably modeled after the EU Digital Markets Act (DMA) which likewise aims to regulate app store monopolies and requires and open app ecosystem. For developers distributing their apps on the Japanese market, a possible new law might lead to more favorable conditions vis-à-vis Apple and Google in the future.

Your point of contact in Japan: Michael Müller

Mueller Foreign Law Office

Shin-Kasumigaseki Building
3-3-2 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo 100-0013, Japan

TEL       +81 3 6805 5161
FAX       +81 3 6805 5162


MALAYSIA: OSHA Act comes into force in Malaysia: New rules for safety in the workplace


OSHA Act comes into force in Malaysia: New rules for safety in the workplace



Against this backgrouThe new OSHA Act (Occupational Safety and Health (Amendment) Act 2022) comes into force on 1 June 2024. This will result in important changes for all companies operating in Malaysia. Dr @Harald Sippel, our ADWA partner in Malaysia, has summarised the most important changes brought about by the OSHA Act for you:

The application of the OSHA Act will be extended to ‘all places of work’ with immediate effect. Previously, the OSHA Act only applied to certain industries, such as manufacturing, construction and catering. In future, it will also be applied to industries that were previously not associated with OSHA at all, such as public schools, co-working spaces and fitness centres. Many companies with (just) five or more employees must appoint an occupational safety and health coordinator. Although the OSHA Act says nothing about this, the Department of Occupational Safety and Health requires that coordinators complete a course from an approved training centre. The penalties for violating the OSHA Act have been massively increased. While the maximum penalty was previously only MYR 100,000 (approx. EUR 20,000), a maximum fine of MYR 500,000 (EUR 100,000) will apply from 1 June. In addition - company directors beware! - the possibility of imposing prison sentences of up to two years. Persons in management positions can also be held jointly and severally liable alongside the company itself. The OSHA Act dates back to 2022 and has only just come into force. Companies have therefore had a very long time to prepare for the changes and implement them. It can therefore be assumed that Malaysian authorities will show little leniency when it comes to application if violations occur.

Dr. Sippel therefore strongly recommends that companies implement all provisions of the OSHA Act. It is particularly important to bear in mind that Malaysian authorities could make an example of foreign companies and therefore deliberately impose very harsh penalties.

Your point of contact in Malaysia: Dr. Harald Sippel


Level 8, Wisma UOA Damansara
50 Jalan Dungun, Damansara Heights
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

TEL        +60 1 8211 4958
FAX       +60 3 2081 3999


PHILIPPINES: Facilitation of tax payment


Facilitation of tax payment


The Ease of Paying Taxes Act (EOPT Act), also known as Republic Act No. 11976, was signed into law by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on January 5, 2024. This law introduces significant amendments to the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) of 1997 in the Philippines.

The law introduces a new taxpayer classification system that classifies taxpayers into micro, small, medium and large segments based on their gross sales. This allows for tailored tax administration measures for each category, such as reduced compliance requirements for micro and small enterprises.

The implementation of electronic systems for filing tax returns and making tax payments now is mandated. This transition from manual to electronic processes aims to reduce paperwork, minimize errors, and improve the overall efficiency of tax administration. Taxpayers can now file their tax returns and pay their tax liabilities online, saving time and effort.

Tax forms and procedures are being simplified, making them more user-friendly and understandable to taxpayers. This simplification helps reduce confusion and errors, thereby improving compliance and reducing the likelihood of tax disputes or audits. It also facilitates faster processing and review of tax returns by taxing authorities.

Several benefits are provided for micro and small businesses, including reduced income tax return pages (from 4 to 2 pages), reduced civil penalties (10% reduced rate), reduced interest rates on unpaid taxes (50% reduction) and reduced fines for certain violations (₱500 penalty).

For VAT reporting, now the newly introduced sales invoices for both the sale of goods and services are replacing the distinction between official receipts and invoices. The basis for calculating VAT on the sale of services is also changed from gross receipts to gross sales. VAT refund claims are now categorized into low-, medium-, and high-risk, with the Revenue Service (BIR) required to process general refund claims within 180 days. An invoice system is also implemented to accelerate VAT refunds.

Additionally, the act also reduces the period for preserving books of account from 10 to 5 years.

The law emphasizes the importance of providing accessible and responsive tax services to taxpayers. It encourages the establishment of taxpayer assistance centers or help desks where individuals and businesses can seek guidance and assistance regarding tax-related matters. This initiative aims to improve taxpayer education and awareness, empowering them to fulfill their tax obligations more effectively.

In order to enhance taxpayers’ awareness and understanding of tax laws and regulations new taxpayers’ education and assistances’ programs are being implemented. These programs may include seminars, workshops, online resources, and other educational initiatives designed to equip taxpayers with the knowledge and skills necessary for compliant tax filing and payment.

The law outlines that taxpayers have rights and responsibilities, commonly referred to as a taxpayer charter. This charter serves as a guide for both taxpayers and tax authorities, promoting transparency, fairness, and accountability in tax administration. It helps build trust and confidence in the tax system by ensuring that taxpayers are treated fairly and that their rights are respected throughout the tax compliance process.

The new law underscores the importance of good governance and accountability in tax administration. It may include measures to enhance transparency, integrity, and efficiency in the collection and management of tax revenues. By promoting good governance practices, the law aims to strengthen public trust in the tax system and foster compliance among taxpayers.

In summary, the Ease of Paying Taxes Act aims to simplify tax compliance, reduce the burden on taxpayers, and modernize the Philippine tax administration through various measures, especially benefiting micro and small enterprises, nut should also reduce the administrative burden on taxpayers and improve the efficiency of tax collection.

Your point of contact in the Philippines: Lutz Kaiser

Villanueva Gabionza & Dy Law Offices

20th/F Corporate Center
139 Valero St., Salcedo Village
Makati City 1227, Philippines

CELL      +63 995 985 4957
TEL        +63 2 8813 3351
FAX       +63 2 8816 6741


SINGAPORE: New "Tripartite Guidelines"


New "Tripartite Guidelines"


Under these new Singapore Tripartite Guidelines (https://www.mom.gov.sg/-/media/mom/documents/press-releases/2024/tripartite-guidelines-on-flexible-work-arrangement-requests.pdf), from 1 December 2024, all employers in Singapore must establish an internal process for employees in Singapore to formally apply for flexible working arrangements (‘FWAs’).

The guidelines define three types of flexible work arrangements:

"Flexi-place"-arrangements, where employees can work from locations outside the office. This includes teleworking and working from home.

"Flexi-time"-arrangements, where employees can work at different times without changing their total working hours or workload. This includes staggered working hours, flexible shifts and a compressed work schedule.

"Flexi-Load"-arrangements where employees can take on work assignments of varying scope with appropriate compensation. This includes job sharing and part-time work.

Employers should communicate their decision on FWA within two months of a request for flexible working arrangements.

Whilst employers have the right to refuse such requests, the decision should be supported by reasonable business grounds such as cost or productivity considerations. The guidance also sets out what constitutes unreasonable grounds for refusing FWA requests.

Your point of contact in Singapore: Dr. Andreas Respondek

Respondek & Fan Pte Ltd

1 North Bridge Road
#16-03 High Street Centre
Singapore 179094

CELL      +65 9751 0757
TEL        +65 6324 0060
FAX        +65 6324 0223