29 Nov ASEAN Today – Regional Legal and Business News – October 2021
ASEAN Today – Regional Legal and Business News for October 2021 including an Immigration Update on Quarantine Exemptions and Corporate Law News on the Amendment of Investment Promotion for Digital IndustryDownload PDF
ASEAN Economic Community News
New US-ASEAN Initiatives
The United States announced that it will provide US$102 million in new initiatives to help expand the US-ASEAN strategic partnership. The different initiatives include US-ASEAN Health Futures which addresses the current pandemic and is also meant to strengthen ASEAN’s ability to prevent, detect, and respond to future zoonotic and other infectious disease outbreaks. Also, the expansion of the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) support for multiple programs including the ASEAN Single Window as part of global development of interoperable single window systems, expanding smart power efforts through the Southeast Asia Smart Power Program to decarbonize and strengthen the region’s power systems, investing in the new Sustainable Fish Asia project, launching the Smart Transport Asia program, and initiating the US-ASEAN Science and Technology Innovation Cooperation Program (STIC). The US-ASEAN Climate Futures initiative is dedicated to tackling the climate crisis and keeping the urgent goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach.
Regional Clean Energy Concerns
Advancing the world’s energy transition to a carbon-free future is not just about climate change, it’s also about future economic growth. ASEAN is committed to a target of 23% renewable energy in total primary energy demand by 2025, and experts say that the conditions for renewable energy in the region are favorable, but achieving the target will require swift action on the bottlenecks to progress. Economic growth requires a steady and secure energy supply, and the ASEAN region has real challenges in energy security. The ASEAN member states do not produce sufficient supply to meet their own needs and rely on imports that are predominately fossil fuels. Additionally, growing energy demand from China and India is also putting pressure on ASEAN countries. Experts say that there is a current pipeline of 800 clean energy projects across the region that if realized will have an investment potential of US$316 billion, an emission-saving potential of 229 metric tons of carbon dioxide, and could generate 800,000 jobs.
Non-Tariff Measure Toolkit
A key part of the ASEAN Economic Community is for ASEAN to become a large, dynamic single market and production base by harmonizing standards and removing both tariffs and non-tariff barriers to intra-ASEAN trade. While excellent progress has been made on the removal of tariffs, the number of non-tariff barriers (NTBs) has actually increased by 60% since the launch of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015. At a recent meeting, as a sign that ASEAN may be focusing more on the reduction of NTBs, ASEAN Economic Ministers signed off on a Non-Tariff Measures Cost Effectiveness Toolkit that is the number one priority economic deliverable for Brunei during its ASEAN chairmanship year. The Toolkit will allow all ASEAN member states to examine all existing non-tariff measures and identify which ones are non-tariff barriers.
ASEAN IP Enforcement
The first ASEAN IP Enforcement Week, part of the ASEAN Working Group on IP Cooperation (AWGIPC), was held this month and added new deliverables to fight online fakes in the AWGIPC’s recently released mid-term update to its 10-year Intellectual Property Rights Action Plan 2016-2025 (IPR Action Plan). The two new deliverables address online enforcement. The first is the creation of an information exchange for online enforcement. This will allow ASEAN governments and brand owners to share important data on the patterns of online infringement. The second is the creation of ASEAN guidelines for online enforcement which will help harmonize the approach to fighting online counterfeits across ASEAN.
A new report by the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) says that while Malaysia remains a key regional destination for high-value manufacturing and global services, the country’s industries need to adopt smart manufacturing to take advantage of the expected growth potential. However, experts say that for smart manufacturing to be successful, industries need to first implement smart systems. Manufacturing companies have tended to maintain legacy systems and processes, but with the current challenges all businesses are facing, manufacturers must evaluate their manufacturing chain and carefully decide on what types of technology they should invest in.
New Tax Law
Indonesia approved its new Harmonized Tax Law (HTL) this month that will overhaul the existing tax structure in order to optimize revenue collection and improve tax compliance. The HTL will raise value added tax (VAT) in 2022, introduce a new carbon levy, and cancel a planned corporate tax cut. Under the FTL, VAT for almost all goods and services will increase from the current 10% to 11% in April 2022 and to 12% by 2025. 25% of Indonesia’s tax revenue in 2020 came from domestic VAT. Indonesia’s Finance Minister says the new fiscal measures will increase 2022’s tax revenue by around 139.3 trillion rupiah ($9.80 billion) and will take Indonesia’s tax ratio to 9.22% of GDP, from 8.44% without the new law.
New Competition Law
Cambodia adopted its first competition law this month that includes all three traditional pillars of enforcement – anticompetitive agreements, abuses of dominance, and merger control. The new competition law is composed of seven chapters and 41 articles and is aimed at shaping fair business practices, promoting economic efficiency and shoring up new businesses, protecting Cambodia’s economy from harmful anti-competitive behaviors, and assisting customers in procuring a broader range of diverse, high-quality goods and services at lower prices. The new law also prescribes potential jail time for cartelists. Cambodia is the final ASEAN country to adopt a competition law.
E-Commerce Taxation Guidelines
Vietnam’s Ministry of Finance (MOF) issued Circular No. 80/2021/TT-BTC (Circular 80) this month that provides the implementing guidelines on the Law on Tax Administration and Government Decree No. 126/2020/ND-CP. Circular 80 includes the tax administration provisions for e-commerce businesses, digital-based businesses, and other overseas service suppliers with no permanent establishment (PE) in Vietnam. Circular 80 includes the definition for e-commerce activities and digital-based businesses, the concerned entities for tax registration, declaration and payment, tax registration, declaration and payment process for overseas suppliers, how to declare and pay taxes in Vietnam on goods from overseas suppliers not registered in Vietnam, and how to claim tax relief according to tax treaties.
Renewable Energy Certificates
As part of its plans to decarbonize the country’s power sector and develop a regional power grid, Singapore announced that it will launch standardized guidelines for renewable energy certificates (RECs). The RECs are market-based instruments verifying that electricity was generated from renewable energy sources. One REC verifies that one megawatt of energy was generated from a renewable energy source. The guidelines are the first of their kind in Southeast Asia and define renewable energy sources eligible to generate RECs.
THAILAND LEGAL REVIEW
Effective November 1, 2021, fully vaccinated travelers arriving by air from 63 Countries are exempted from Quarantine. For all other travelers, the previous restrictions will still apply.
Travelers must be vaccinated and have resided in an eligible country for at least 21 consecutive days prior travel to Thailand. Travelers must show the following documents prior to entering Thailand:
• A certificate of Entry or Thailand Pass
• A medical certificate with an RT-PCR laboratory result indicating that COVID-19 was not detected that was issued no more than 72 hours before departure
• A COVID-19 health insurance policy with a minimum coverage of US$50,000 per traveler
• A confirmation of booking (and receipt) of at least 1 night in an Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration (SHA) Plus or certified accommodation.
• A vaccine certificate to prove that they are Fully Vaccinated issued no less than 14 days prior travel to Thailand with a vaccine registered with the MoPH or approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).
• For travelers with accompanying unvaccinated children under 12, a Medicate Certificate with a RT-PCR laboratory result indicating that COVID-19 was not detected that was issued no more than 72 hours before departure is required.
• Undergo Immigration and Customs procedures (Entry Screening) and declare the above documents.
• Proceed directly to the reserved hotel or designated hospital for COVID-19 tests (RT-PCR method) at their own expense on the arrival date from the airport with designated transportation in sealed route within 2 hours and await the test results in the accommodation.
• Additional RT-PCR tests if the length of stay is less than 7 days are required on Day 6 or 7 or as per the MoPH’s guidelines.
• Download and install the Thailand Plus application and Morchana tracing application. This app must be kept on at all the times as the foreigner moves to different locations in Thailand.
• For the Sandbox Schemes, travelers must arrive through the International Airports at Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Samui, U-Tapao and Buriram (Chartered Flights only).
• Certificate of Entry (COE) to Thailand with effect from 1 November 2021. The COE system will be replaced by Thailand Pass. Travelers who wish to travel to Thailand must register their details at the Thailand Pass website (tp.consular.go.th) at least 7 days before their departure date. Travelers who have already obtained a COE are not required to undergo the new Thailand Pass process.
The material contained herein is only provided for information purposes. No part thereof may be deemed to constitute legal advice or the opinions of this law firm or any of its attorneys. Whilst every effort has been made to verify the contents of the material contained herein, we do not represent, warrant, undertake, or guarantee that the information contained in this newsletter is correct, accurate, or complete. Legal advice must be sought before acting on any information contained herein.