- Mainland China is to further expand cross-border RMB use and introduces new measures to facilitate handling of tax matters.
- Hong Kong introduces major amendments to its copyright regime and pilots the FintechHK Community Platform.
Shanghai to Introduce New Economic Incentives to Help Small Businesses
On 15 January, Shanghai’s mayor Mr Gong Zheng pledged new tax cuts and government subsidies to dovetail with the city’s goal to achieve a gross domestic product growth rate of 5.5 percent. The aim is to boost the availability of economic support for pandemic-stricken small enterprises.
According to the mayor, a string of measures were currently being explored to address the problems confronting local small businesses, including difficulties in securing orders and finance, and coping with high raw material costs.
The details of such incentive packages are yet to be fleshed out by the authorities.
On a related note, the Shanghai municipal government plans to set up four industry clusters — encompassing artificial intelligence, new-energy vehicles, semiconductors and high-end equipment — inside the Lin-gang Special Area.
China to Further Expand Cross-border RMB Use
China has rolled out a set of measures to bolster the cross-border use of renminbi. On 11 January, the Ministry of Commerce and the People’s Bank of China jointly issued the Circular on Further Expanding Cross-border Use of Renminbi in Foreign Trade and Economy to Facilitate Trade and Investment.
According to the Circular, the measures seek to facilitate the utilisation of renminbi in cross-border contexts so as to better cater to the needs of companies engaging in foreign trade and investment activities.
Banks are urged to provide more efficient and convenient services in respect of transactions, settlement, investment and financing. Moreover, the Circular calls on banks to innovate their offerings and ramp up the provision of overseas RMB-denominated loans.
The Circular also underscores the central role of opening-up platforms conducive to promoting cross-border RMB use, such as pilot free-trade zones, the Hainan Free Trade Port as well as other economic and trade cooperation zones.
China Promulgates New Measures to Facilitate Handling of Tax Matters
On 3 January, China’s State Taxation Administration released its first official document in the new year, the Guidelines on Launching the “Spring Breeze” Campaign to Facilitate Tax Handling in 2023.
The Guidelines set out 17 new measures in six aspects, namely improving the quality of response to taxpayers’ reasonable demands, comprehensively upgrading services, improving the efficiency in policy implementation, expediting the development of digital tax administration, streamlining processes and refining the mechanisms for execution, the aim of which is to enhance the dynamism of market entities, promote the rule of law and fair taxation, and foster the development of a high-quality business environment.
Some of the measures include:
🔵 Optimising services based on the behavioural habits of taxpayers;
🔵 Broadening the eligibility for priority tax refunds in respect of individual income tax payments to widen access;
🔵 Exploring the provision of automated answering services relating to tax matters;
🔵Supporting taxpayers in making cross-border tax payments in renminbi directly through online filing;
🔵Promoting the implementation of digital renminbi for tax payment;
🔵Expanding the application of digital renminbi to meet the diverse tax payment needs of taxpayers;
🔵Exploring and optimising the mechanism of tax credit re-evaluation for newly registered taxpayers.
Hong Kong Pilots FintechHK Community Platform
Spearheaded by InvestHK with the support of the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau, the FintechHK Community Platform has been launched, serving as a pioneering centralised platform to connect local and international fintech companies with investors, corporates and service providers.
The aim of the platform is to enrich and nurture the growth of Hong Kong’s fintech ecosystem as well as boost local startups’ readiness in expanding into adjacent markets, such as mainland China, Southeast Asia and other regions.
Via the platform, fintech companies can gain exposure through creating a company profile with fundraising requirements and other relevant details, which allows them to flaunt their value proposition and innovative solutions to platform users.
Additionally, the platform enables corporates and investors to spot appropriate investment opportunities more easily.
So far, 300 fintech companies have joined the platform, and the number is only set to rise .
As the Head of Fintech at InvestHK, Mr King Leung, observed, “With the forces of accelerating fintech adoption among corporates and macroeconomic headwinds, now is a critical time, especially for fintech companies, to raise market visibility.”
Hong Kong Introduces Major Amendments to Copyright Regime
Gazetted on 16 December 2022, the Hong Kong Copyright (Amendment) Ordinance 2022 (“2022 Ordinance”) is the long-awaited revision of the Copyright Ordinance (Cap. 528) (“Ordinance”).
Prior to the promulgation of the 2022 Ordinance, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government had conducted three rounds of public consultations as well introduced two amendment bills in 2011 and 2014 that were, however, never gazetted.
A legislative update was long overdue, as the original Ordinance that came into force in 1997 had never been updated to reflect the profound changes brought about by digitalisation.
The main amendments are as follows:
🔵Copyright owners have been given a new technology-neutral communication right, the aim of which is to extend protection to works communicated to the wider public through any form of electronic transmission, including streaming.
🔵Criminal sanctions have been introduced against offenders who communicate copyright works to the public without authorisation for the purpose of making profit or to prejudice copyright owners.
🔵New copyright exceptions for the use of copyright material have been added, including exceptions for the education sector, libraries, museums, archives and media shifting.
China Lifts Quarantine Requirements for Inbound Travellers
Following the downgrading of the country’s management of COVID-19 to a Class B infectious disease, China’s National Health Commission axed quarantine requirements on inbound travellers on 26 December 2022, which came into effect on 8 January 2023.
According to the Overall Plan for Implementing Class B Infectious Disease Management for COVID-19 Infections:
🔵Quarantine measures will no longer be imposed on entry persons and goods;
🔵Quarantine measures will no longer be imposed on COVID-19 infected persons;
🔵Close contacts of COVID-19 infected persons will no longer be identified;
🔵The classification of areas as high or low risk will no longer be applied;
🔵Adjustments shall be made to shift from compulsory testing to voluntary testing;
🔵Adjustments shall be made in respect of frequency and content of information release relating to COVID-19 infections.
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