The recent outbreak of COVID-19 has severely disrupted our daily lives and business operations. As of 19 July 2020, the total confirmed cases in Hong Kong has reached over 1,800. To minimize transmission of imported cases, a mandatory 14-day quarantine for persons entering Hong Kong was implemented on 8 February 2020. Under the travel restrictions, multinational companies requiring routine travelling have been forced to suspend business trips, changing their work patterns.
Recently, the Government of Hong Kong SAR announced that Hong Kong enterprises with manufacturing operations in the Mainland can apply for exemption from the compulsory quarantine arrangement. Under the amended section 4(1)(b) of Cap. 599C, the Chief Secretary for Administration has exempted the following category of persons from the compulsory quarantine arrangement with effect from 4 May 2020 –
(a) either the owner of a Hong Kong enterprise with a valid business registration certificate issued under the Business Registration Ordinance (Cap. 310) and with manufacturing operations in the Mainland, and up to one personnel employed and so authorized by the enterprise; or
(b) up to two personnel employed and so authorized by such an enterprise as described in (a).
Upon successful application, the exempted person may travel to and stay in the city where the Mainland factory of the enterprise’s manufacturing operations is located, for supporting the operation and business of the factory. When returning to Hong Kong, the person is exempted from the 14-day quarantine, but will be subjected to medical surveillance arranged by the Department of Health during his/her stay in Hong Kong, and will be required to wear masks and check body temperature daily, as well as to report to the Department of Health on any discomfort.
The above arrangement would allow flexibility for Hong Kong companies to send personnel to designated Chinese cities and support their manufacturing operations. The personnel are not subject to mandatory quarantine in Hong Kong when they return from their business trip. However, they may still be subject to local quarantine requirements in mainland China when they travel outbound from Hong Kong.
What CW can do for you:
CW can assist our clients with the application of the above-mentioned exemption including
- analyzing the application criteria, and
- preparing and submitting the application.
Written by Toby Wong, China Consultancy Team, CW CPA
FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENTS
Stabilize the Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment Mentioned in PRC Government Work Report 2020
A closing meeting of the third session of the 13th National People’s Congress was held in Beijing on 28 May 2020 and the resolution on the report on the work of the Government was adopted and approved. The key messages for foreign investors are the following:
- Promote a higher level of opening-up of the Chinese market to foreign investments
- Support further liberalization and facilitation of international trade
- Provide guidance of healthy development of Chinese outbound investments
Full text of the Report can be downloaded from here: Download Report
China’s Civil Code coming into force on 1 January 2021
China’s third session of the 13th National People’s Congress voted to adopt the Civil Code of the People’s Republic of China, which will come into force on 1 January 2021. The current Marriage Law, Inheritance Law, General Principles of Civil Law, Adoption Law, Guarantee law, Contract law, Property law, and Tort Liability Law shall be repealed simultaneously. It is a systematic integration and compilation of decentralized civil legislation since 1949. One of the key points of the amendment of the Civil Code is to strengthen the protection of personal information and privacy.
The State Council Issues the Overall Plan for the Construction of Hainan Free Trade Port
On 1 June 2020, the Overall Plan for the Construction of Hainan Free Trade Port, formulated by the State Council, was officially released. The key policies include but not limited to:
- Maximum personal income tax of 15 percent high-end talents;
- Corporate income tax of 15 percent on encouraged industrial enterprises;
- Exempt from import duties, import value-added tax and consumption tax on imported goods purchase by island residents;
- Conduct the negative list of cross-border trade in services for Hainan Free Trade Port;
- Conduct a negative list management system on the issuance of work permit for foreign employees.
TRADE, CUSTOMS AND INDUSTRIES
Further compliance management guidelines for online retail platforms
The China Council for the Promotion of International Trade has completed the drafting of The Compliance Management Guide for Online Retail Platforms. The draft was published on 5 June 2020 for consultation until 26 June 2020.
The Compliance Management Guide for Online Retail Platforms includes detailed rules on the online retail operators in adopting compliance grading, assessment, management & supervision of online retailers. It is suitable for online retail platform operators in evaluating and managing the compliance of online retailers applying for joining the platform.
EMPLOYMENT & LABOR
Guangdong Province’s guidelines on applying for China visa under existing travel restriction
On 28 May 2020, the Foreign Affairs Office of the People’s Government of Guangdong Province issued an announcement explaining the basic procedures of applying for an invitation letter for the purpose of China visa under existing travel restriction imposed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of PRC and National Immigration Administration since 26 March 2020.
Foreign nationals engaging in necessary economic, trade, scientific or technological activities may apply for an invitation letter with the local Foreign Affairs Office, which then can be used to apply for a visa to enter China.
Similar procedures apply to other provinces. Foreign nationals who wish to travel to China should contact the local Foreign Affairs Office.
Shanghai – employer subsidy scheme for training fees
All types of enterprises in Shanghai affected by the pandemic which organized online training for employees and dispatched workers during the shutdown period can receive 95% subsidy based on the actual amount spent on the training course. Platform enterprises (e-commerce enterprises) and new business enterprises are eligible to apply. (Responsible units: Shanghai Municipal Human Resources and Social Security Bureau and Shanghai Municipal Finance Bureau)
FINANCE & TAXATION
The Application Period for Preferential Policy of Personal Income Tax of GBA is from 1 July to 15 August 2020
In accordance with Interim Measures of Guangzhou for Administration of Financial Subsidies under Preferential Individual Income Tax (IIT) Policies in Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA), overseas high-end talents and talents in short supply who work within the administrative areas of Guangzhou shall be given financial subsidies if their IIT paid in Guangzhou exceeding the tax amount computed at 15% of their taxable income. The application period of this year for preferential policy in Guangzhou city begins from 1 July to 15 August.
Announcement of the State Taxation Administration on Matters concerning the Deferred Payment of Income Tax in 2020 by Small Low-profit Enterprises
From 1 May 2020 to 31 December 2020, small low-profit enterprises may defer the payment of corporate income tax for the current period after completing the filing of tax returns with prepayment according to the provisions in the remaining filing period in 2020, and the payment of all income tax amount may be deferred to the first period for filing tax returns in 2021.
Small low-profit enterprises refer to enterprises engaging in non-restricted and non-prohibited businesses, which satisfy three criteria simultaneously, namely, annual taxable income amount does not exceed RMB3 million, staff headcount does not exceed 300 and total assets do not exceed RMB50 million.
Written by China Consultancy Team, CW CPA
CW CPA is gaining a foothold in the Latin American and Spanish markets. As one of its two partners, Thomas Wong was interviewed by the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants two years ago and his interview was subsequently reported by Master Insight, a growing online and traditional media publishing company in Hong Kong which has more than 65,000 online followers. He shared how he got out of the box and established one of Hong Kong’s most distinctive Certified Public Accountants firms. The interview article in Chinese was published on the Master Insight website on 21 November 2018. For those who have not read it yet, let us take an opportunity to read the article and learn from Mr Wong’s Latin journey.
The guitar melodies of a Latin rock musician, Carlos Santana, nurtured Thomas Wong’s way of thinking international when he was a teenager. Another inspiration for Mr Wong was the book Blue Ocean Strategy written by W. Chan Kim and Renee Maubourgne, which delivered a clear message: to stay away from the familiar. He read the book in 2006, the same year he started exploring the Latin American market through his friend’s connections.
Since CW CPA’s establishment, Mr Wong has continued his Latin dream and been making the firm to be seen in Latin America and Spain as the go-to firm for entry into Hong Kong and mainland China. He is not just dealing with numbers, but also gives overseas businessmen advice on everything from finding decoration workers to doctors. Recently, he saw changes, one of which foreseen by him was the huge surge of interest in the Greater Bay Area (“GBA”). As a strong advocate of the GBA concept, he believes the GBA will act as gateway for Latin American and overseas clients looking to expand their businesses into the mainland China and for Chinese companies to reach out to overseas.
Want to know more about Mr Wong’s business philosophy? Please spend a few minutes to enjoy the article here:
Written by Toby Wong, China Consultancy Team, CW CPA
In late April, CW had the pleasure to deliver a series of webinars in Mexico, sharing insights, experience and knowledge on how to overcome business challenges during COVID-19. With more than 100 people registered for the webinars and many more watching the video recordings, these webinars resulted from the collaborative efforts with our strategic business partners such as InvestHK and COMCE Sur.
COVID-19 landed in Latin America on 26 February 2020 when Brazil confirmed its first case. Mexico confirmed its very first case on 28 February in Mexico City. Since then, governments across the region – including Mexico – have taken an array of actions to protect their citizens and reduce the spread of COVID-19.
With the new coronavirus spreading rapidly across all Latin American countries, the seeming difficulty to stop the spread of coronavirus and the travel restrictions imposed by some governments in the region, it is difficult for LATAM businesses to successfully stay afloat in these times.
In the next coming months, our Latin Department will continue organizing more webinars on various topics relating to the latest government measures in battling against COVID-19 and helping our clients in Latin America steer clear of any policy uncertainty.
- InvestHK is a government department of foreign direct investment in Hong Kong, having a vision to strengthen Hong Kong’s status as the leading international business location in Asia. Its mission is to attract and retain foreign direct investment which is of strategic importance to the economic development of Hong Kong.
- COMCE is one of the main organizations dedicated to promoting foreign trade, foreign investment and the development of technology in Mexico. It has more than 50 years of experience in foreign trade promotion and represents around 2,000 exporting companies which carry out approximately 80% of total exports in Mexico.
Written by Victor Manuel Herrera, Latin Department, CW CPA
Visit of Argentine MBA students to Invest Hong Kong office
On 17 October 2019, our colleague, Gabriela Lenis, accompanied a delegation of Argentine businessmen from the National University of Rosario to visit the office of Invest Hong Kong, where Mr. Dixon Wong, Head of Financial Services of Invest Hong Kong, and Mr. Gustavo Fazzari, Consul General of the Argentine Republic in Hong Kong, gave a presentation on Hong Kong’s competitive advantages as a market and financial center. CW was grateful for the opportunity given by the Consulate General of the Argentine Republic in Hong Kong and Invest Hong Kong.
Special thanks to Mr. Jimmy Chiang, the Associate Director-General of Invest Hong Kong, who kindly shared a pleasant moment with the delegates. On this occasion, our colleague Gabriela Lenis was pleased to speak about the process of business set-up in Hong Kong. As a keynote speaker, Mr. Dixon Wong introduced the latest development of the banking and financial industry in Hong Kong, answering questions and concerns raised by the delegates.
Written by Gabriela A. Lenis, Latin Department, CW CPA
Delegation of Argentine agricultural entrepreneurs in Hong Kong
CW CPA appreciates the invitation by Mr. Gustavo Fazzari, Consul General of the Argentine Republic in Hong Kong, to participate in the meeting at Hong Kong Trade Development Council (“HKTDC”) on 27 September 2019. Consul Nicolas Pirrello and Ms. Anne Chung, Manager, International Relations of the Belt & Road Initiative of the HKTDC were present at the meeting, together with our Latin Department advisors, Gabriela Lenis and Raul Chan, and discussed the business opportunities in Hong Kong as a gateway to the Asian market.
It is worth mentioning that this is the fifth trip to China organized by the Argentine agricultural consultancy company, Nóvitas S.A., which organizes annual training tours around the world and has more than 25 years of experience in the Argentine market. On this occasion, the tour was to visit major Chinese cities, including Hong Kong, from 17 to 30 September 2019. The head of this delegation was the Director of Nóvitas S.A., Mr. Diego De La Puente.
Written by Gabriela A. Lenis, Latin Department, CW CPA
Hong Kong Electronics Fair (Autumn Edition) 2019
The Hong Kong Electronics Fair (“Fair”) celebrated its 39th edition from 13 October to 16 October. This year, one of the main highlights of the Fair was the Tech Hall that showcased 5 important technological areas: 3D Printing, Robotics & Unmanned Tech, Smart Tech, Startup and Virtual Reality. Last year the Fair hosted around 3,740 exhibitors from 21 different countries. This year, the number of exhibitors increased up to 3,908 coming from 26 countries around the world, such as China, South Korea, India, USA, UK, Japan, Canada, Italy, Germany, Thailand, Malaysia, Russia, Australia, France, Netherlands, Spain, Singapore, Philippines, Vietnam etc.. Exhibitors brought along their remarkable and outstanding products to the Fair. Our colleague, Raul Chan, attended the event on 14 October and visited many exhibitors.
Written by Marant Caballero, Latin Department, CW CPA
On 18 Jul 2019, Mr. Thomas Wong, Partner of CW CPA led a team of CW colleagues visited Hong Kong Science Park and was well received by Mr. Peter Mok, Head of Incubation & Acceleration Programmes and Mr. Wilson Chan, Senior Manager of Incubation Promotion at Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP).
During the meeting, Mr. Wilson Chan provided a latest update on HKSTP’s pre-incubation, incubation, and enterprise acceleration programmes, following which Ms. Shelley Lin from CW presented to HKSTP about the professional services and networks CW could offer and the activities CW has been conducting to attract and support overseas entrepreneurs in Hong Kong.
HKSTP has three main set-ups for scientists and developers. In their pre-incubation stage, HKSTP has the Science and Technology Entrepreneur Programme (STEP) which has lower criteria and allows tech-focused entrepreneurs to test their idea by giving them access to funding, space, and developmental training for a year. The incubation stage is broken up into Incu-app, Incu-tech, and Incu-bio divisions, with each successful applicant receiving access to office space, technical and management assistance, promotion and development assistance, business support, and a financial aid package. Finally, the Leading Enterprises Acceleration Programme (LEAP) helps startups access the global stage, by granting access to the Greater Bay Area, commercializing with a startup ecosystem backed by the HK Government, and receiving up to HK$4.5 million.
The meeting was productive and Mr. Thomas Wong and Mr, Peter Mok exchanged ideas on how CW and HKSTP could collaborate to help startups achieve success in Hong Kong. HKSTP was particularly interested in CW’s specialty in the Spanish-speaking and Portuguese-speaking markets. Despite the on-going trade war between China and the US, neither CW nor HKSTP have seen a decrease in inquiries. In particular, CW has been receiving an increasing number of enquiries about the incubation programmes offered by HKSTP from entrepreneurs in China, ASEAN and Europe recently. And a tailor-made service package is now being designed to offer a total solution to overseas entrepreneurs who wish to set foot in Hong Kong.
The discussions for closer cooperation between CW and HKSTP will keep going on and remain promising.
Written by Shelley Lin and Melissa Au, Business Development, CW CPA
Written by Toby Wong, China Consultancy Team, CW CPA On 17 July 2019, CW CPA jointly organized a seminar as part of the “Regional Business Gathering Series – Hong Kong” event with the Commerce Bureau of Shenzhen Municipality and the Shenzhen International Investment & Promotion Association, under the theme of Winning Together in the Hong…
A team of our colleagues from different departments visited Cyberport on 17 June 2019. The team was received by: – Ir Eric Chan, Chief Public Mission Officer, Cyberport – Ms Ivy Chan, Head of Ecosystem and Collaboration Team, Cyberport – Ir Antony Chan, Senior Manager, Ecosystem and Collaboration Team The visit program was started by…