MEDIA

HLG Weekly Newsletter

Jan 09,2017
AFRICA
Zimbabwe

1. Tatira Zwinoira, “Special Economic Zones Lure Chinese Investors”, News Day Zimbabwe, January 9, 2017

  • The Chinese business community is expected to inject huge sums of money through major contracts into the country on the back of special economic zones (SEZ), a grouping of Chinese businesses in Zimbabwe has said.
  • The SEZ Act, signed into law by President Robert Mugabe last October, is aimed at increasing trade and investment into the depressed economy.
  • Some of the incentives in the 2017 National Budget aimed at luring investors include an exemption from Corporate Income Tax for the first five years of operation after which a corporate tax rate of 15% would then apply. Another incentive gives special initial allowance on capital equipment to be allowed at the rate of 50% of cost from year one and 25% in the subsequent two years.
AMERICA
Canada

2. Nicholas Keung, “Canadian Immigration Applications Could Soon be Assessed by Computers”, Toronto Star, January 5, 2017

  • Since 2014, the Immigration Department has been developing what’s known as a “predictive analytics” system, which would evaluate applications in a way that’s similar to the work performed by officials today.
  • The plan — part of the government’s modernization of a system plagued by backlogs and delays — is to use the technology to identify the merits of an immigration application, spot potential red flags for fraud and weigh all these factors to recommend whether an applicant should be accepted or refused.

3. David Ljunggren, “Tourism in Canada Jumps Amid Low Loonie, Oil Prices”, Global News, January 5, 2017

  • Tourism spending in Canada jumped the most in nearly 20 years in the third quarter of 2016, official data showed on Thursday, pushed up in part by a weak Canadian dollar that has cut the cost of travel.
  • Statistics Canada said total spending by foreign and domestic tourists grew by 2.2 percent from the second quarter to hit $21.3 billion, the largest percentage increase since the second quarter of 1997. The figures are seasonally adjusted.
  • On Wednesday, the New York Times ranked Canada as No. 1 in its list of top 52 places to go in 2017, listing the country’s 150th birthday as a reason to visit. The Lonely Planet travel guide last October named Canada as the world’s top tourist destination for 2017, saying one reason was Trudeau’s “wave of positivity.”
Caribbean

4. “St. Lucia Goes Cheap”, Caribbean News Now, December 30, 2016

  • Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, who is also the minister responsible for Saint Lucia’s CBI programme, has issued an amendment to the citizenship by investment regulations, removing the cap on annual applications, reducing the amount of qualifying contributions and dispensing with the requirement of financial resources of a minimum of US$3 million.
  • Saint Lucia is now the “cheapest option” for an applicant with a family and is on par with Dominica for a single applicant. However, since the processing fee in Dominica is higher than that of Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia is also “cheaper and best value” for a single applicant.

5. Kadeem Joseph, “CIU Executive and PM Defend CIP”, The Antigua Observer, January 3, 2017

  • Deputy Head of the Citizenship by Investment Programme, Thomas Anthony has strongly criticised, as unbalanced, a CBS ‘60 Minutes’ report on the sale of nationality in the region.
  • Thomas said there was not enough information provided about the quality of the due diligence that is done before an applicant’s passport is granted or the background checks carried out. “We have a multi-tiered approach to due diligence, and there was very little time spent on the robustness of the background checks,” he added.

6. “St. Kitts-Nevis Citizenship Programme Invites Applicants to Play a Part in Life, Culture, and Economy”,

  • Since the appointment of Les Khan in September 2016 as the new chief executive, the Citizenship by Investment Unit has undergone a complete overhaul and restructuring leading to a more robust due diligence framework, greater transparency and thereby improved credibility.
  • According to the quality of nationality index, an objective assessment undertaken by Henley and Partners, St Kitts and Nevis is currently 59 out of 161 countries listed, giving it a ranking of high quality. The criteria for this assessment include scale of the economy, human development, peace and stability.
  • The current government is firmly of the view that citizenship is more than a passport and, to this end, the prime minister has been inviting applicants to play a role in the life, culture and economy of the Federation.

7. Kadeem Joseph, “CIU Plans to Ramp Up Interaction with Upper-Level US Officials”, The Antigua Observer, January 4, 2017

  • The Deputy Head of the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU), Thomas Anthony, said a Donald Trump-led US administration would mean that local officials would have to ramp up interaction with American officials.
  • He said this approach would clear the way for further dialogue and allow the US officials to understand the policies and practices of Antigua & Barbuda’s CIU.

8. Ken Richards, “Basseterre Intensifying Efforts to Get Canada Visa Free Status Reinstated”, Winn FM, January 5, 2017

  • The Canadian decision was made over the North American country’s concerns about the federation’s Citizenship by Investment programme. The Team Unity Administration says those concerns have since been addressed, and Minister Brantley has been leading the charge to have the visa waiver reinstated.
  • According to [Foreign Affairs Minister Mark Brantley], a higher level of diplomacy is currently taking place between St Kitts and Nevis and Canada, which should help in the visa waiver matter. “We’ve opened our High Commission in Ottawa, the first time we’ve had that level of representation there and through that High Commission we are engaging.

9. “St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Programme Makes Applications from Families More Accommodating”, The St. Kitts and Nevis Observer, January 5, 2017

  • The changes are being implemented to better integrate applicants into the life of the Federation by supporting applications from families. To this end, the announced changes include the lowering of the dependent ages for parents from 65 to 55, the increasing of the age of a financial dependent from 25 to 30 and the confirmation that children under the age of 16, born after the main applicant received citizenship, will no longer be required to be processed by the CIU. These dependents can be added through an application to the Ministry of National Security.
  • In addition, the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation contribution requirements have been modified.
United States

10. “AAO Eases NIW Tests for EB-2 Green Card Applicants”, The American Bazaar, January 2, 2017

  • The US authorities have eased the tests to get National Interest Waiver (NIW) – a prerequisite for EB-2 category applicants.
  • Recently, the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services had liberalized its rules. Before the liberalization of the rules, it was mandatory for all applicants to have a permanent job and a labor certificate to apply for Green Card.
  • In the new order AAO says “USCIS may grant an NIW if the applicant demonstrates that his or her proposed endeavor (activity) in the US has both substantial merit and national importance. That he or she is well positioned to carry it forward and lastly that on balance it would be more beneficial for the US to waive the job offer and the labour certification requirements.”

11. Dileep Thekkethil, “Bill to End H-1B Visa Abuse Reintroduced in US Congress”, The American Bazaar, January 2, 2017

  • The new bill, titled “Protect and Grow American Jobs Act,” has been re-introduced in Congress by Republican Darrell Issa and Democrat Scott Peters proposing important changes to the eligibility criteria for availing H-1B visa.
  • The bill has recommended a hike in the minimum salary of H-1B employees, and elimination of the masters’ quota/cap. The lawmakers have proposed an increase of $100,000 in the annual salary of H-1B employees.
  • The lawmakers are of the opinion that the legislation will ensure that only talented people from the world get an opportunity to work in the US, thus offering more job opportunity to US citizens.
ASIA
ASEAN

12. “China Supports Philippines in Holding ASEAN Rotating Presidency”, Global Times, January 4, 2017

  • China supports the Philippines in assuming the rotating presidency of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2017, said a Foreign Ministry spokesman on Wednesday. "China hopes to push relations with ASEAN to a new level," said spokesman Geng Shuang at a daily press briefing.
  • China is willing to work with ASEAN to implement the third action plan for their strategic partnership and push for positive results from the upgrading of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (FTA).
Cambodia

13. “Chinese Tourists to Cambodia Jumps 20% in 2016”, Bangkok Post, January 4, 2017

  • Cambodia last year recorded around 900,000 Chinese tourist arrivals and the country is on track by 2020 to host about 7 million foreign tourists, with 2 million of them coming from mainland China, according to the Tourism Ministry.
  • “In 2016, 900,000 Chinese tourists visited Cambodia and this was a 20% increase compared with 2015. Last year, we recorded 5 million international tourist arrivals and Chinese nationals were ranked second [after arrivals from Europe and other Western nations],” the Khmer Times on Wednesday quoted Tourism Minister Thong Khon as saying.
India

14. “Indian Govt Announces Changes in Visa Rules”, Muscat Daily, January 8, 2017

  • The government has modified the existing ‘e-Tourist Visa’ scheme. In a statement, the Indian Embassy in Muscat said, “The ‘e-Visa’ will now be issued for the specific purpose of the visit viz. ‘e-Tourist Visa’, ‘e-Business Visa’ and ‘e-Medical Visa’.
  • The window for issuing visas under ‘e-Visa’ has also been increased from 30 to 120 days, which means that the applicant can travel to India within 120 days of the issue of ‘e-Visa’. Similarly, the duration of stay under ‘e-Visa’ has also been increased from existing 30 to 60 days.
  • While under ‘e-Tourist Visa’ and ‘e-Business Visa’, foreigners will now be allowed to undertake two visits as against the current one. Applicants availing the‘e-Medical Visa’ will be issued Triple Entry Visas enabling them to visit India three times on the same visa. ‘e-Visa’, except for ‘e-Medical Visa’, will be non-extendable and non-convertible.
Philippines

15. Arnold Tenorio, “Investors Once Again Taking Notice of the Philippines – ABD Chief”, Business World Online, January 9, 2017

  • ASIAN Development Bank (ADB) President Takehiko Nakao said the country’s economic growth is “becoming more solid,” providing an ideal home to the regional lender, which last year marked half-a-century of existence headquartered in the Philippine capital.
  • “Philippines growth is becoming even more solid and in 2016 we are expecting it would be 6.8% and this year, 6.4%,” Mr. Nakao told BusinessWorld, citing the latest forecasts issued last month in the ADB’s Asia Development Outlook Supplement.
  • “This is the highest among ASEAN countries except Myanmar, which is growing more than eight percent a year because it started from a low level of GDP. But now Philippines is growing very fast, and we are expecting 6.4% this year would be a little bit higher than that of Vietnam and Indonesia (which) would be five percent.”
Singapore

16. Priyankar Bhunia, “Immigration and Check-Points Authority of Singapore to Start Collecting Iris Images From January 2017”, Open Gov Asia, January 3, 2017

 

  • According to a report on Reach Singapore, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) will collect iris images from Singaporeans and Permanent Residents starting from this month, when they during NRIC registration and re-registration process, and passport application and renewal.
  • This is driven by feedback from people who had problems using automated clearance gates at checkpoints because of difficulties in producing definitive fingerprints.
Vietnam

17. “Viet Nam Second in ASEAN in Manufacturing Sector Growth”, Viet Nam News, January 4, 2017

 

  • The Vietnamese manufacturing sector ended 2016 on a positive note, with the Nikkei Việt Nam Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) coming second among the top three PMIs in ASEAN region.
  • As per the latest PMI data released by Nikkei market, in December, among ASEAN countries, the Philippines was at first place at 55.7; the second place went to Việt Nam at 52.4; and Thailand took third place at 50.6.
  • The Nikkei Việt Nam Manufacturing PMI is based on data compiled from monthly responses to questionnaires sent to purchasing executives in around 400 industrial companies. The panel is stratified by GDP and size of company workforce.

18. “UK Newspaper Dubs Vietnam a Safe Place to Visit”, VN Express, January 5, 2017

 

  • Vietnam was named among nine countries with a 'low' terror threat by the Telegraph. On Tuesday the newspaper released a series of graphics that remap the world in a wide range of perspectives, from gun ownership, energy consumption and criminal executions, to happiness, obesity and Miss World competitions. Vietnam was one of the countries listed as "safe to visit”.
  • Vietnam is becoming an increasingly popular destination, with foreign visitor numbers hitting a record high of more than 10 million in 2016, up 26 percent from the previous year.
EUROPE
Belarus

19. “Over 2,200 Foreigners Visit Grodno Oblast Visa-Free”, Belarusian Telegraph Agency, January 3, 2017

 

  • “The geography of visa-free travelers is expanding. Over 2,200 foreigners from 25 countries have visited Grodno and its surroundings visa-free since 26 October 2016,” the representatives of the border guard group noted.
  • Decree No. 318 of the Belarusian head of state on the introduction of the visa-free travel to the Augustow Canal for foreigners came into force on 26 October. The document permits foreign nationals to stay on the territory of the park and its surroundings for a period of up to five days.
Greece

20. A. Makris, “Tourism is National Champion of the Greek Economy, ISETE Report”, Greek Reporter, January 5, 2017

 

  • Tourism has contributed significantly to the Greek economy, according to an INSETE report. It has become a true national champion in the race for a more extroverted Greek economy, given that more than 90% of its revenues come from abroad, within an extremely competitive global environment.
  • According to the Labor Force Survey findings, at peak periods, tourism employs more than 10% of the country’s labor force and has become the 3rd largest employment sector (after commerce and the entire primary sector), ahead of manufacturing and the public sector.
United Kingdom

21. John Ainger, “U.K. Should Introduce Canadian-Style Visa System, Panel Says”, Bloomberg, January 4, 2017

 

  • Such a system would devolve decisions over immigration, allowing local administrations to set quotas based on “economic and cultural needs,” the All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Integration said in a report published Thursday. It also said migrants should have to learn English and urged the government to promote awareness of U.K. laws, tradition and culture.
  • Net migration stood at a near-record 335,000 in the 12 months through June 2016, the latest official figures show. May’s government has said it wants to reduce it to below 100,000.

22. Thomas Colson, “Brexit drove a 40% increase in passport applications to Ireland from Britain Last Year”, Business Insider, January 5, 2017

 

  • Republic of Ireland Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said in a statement that Brexit was partly responsible for the rise, with a 41% increase in applications from Britain compared to 2015, and a 27% in applications from Northern Ireland.
  • Overall, the department issued 67,972 passports to people from Northern Ireland and 64,996 from Britain.
OCEANIA
Australia

23. Shamsher Kainth, “Australia Considering a Tougher Citizenship Test, Confirms Immigration Minister”, SBS Online, January 3, 2017

 

  • Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said revamping the Australian citizenship test was a “debate worth having” as the federal government looks at measures to prevent from exploiting migration pathways.
  • Mr Dutton flagged he wants to see greater focus on people's ability to integrate into Australian society - an individual's willingness to learn English, educate their children and employment prospects or potential welfare dependence.

24. Jamie Smyth, “Chinese Investors Join Tourist Rush to Australia”, Financial Times, January 4, 2017

 

  • The number of Chinese tourists visiting Australia has more than doubled over the past five years to 1.2m, which ranks them second only to visitors from New Zealand.
  • On average, each Chinese visitor spends A$8,000 per trip, compared with A$5,000 by other international travellers. Chinese tourists now account for nearly one in four tourist dollars spent by international visitors, according to Tourism Australia.
  • Chinese investment in the US, Europe and Australia has hit record levels, underlining Beijing’s growing importance as a driver of global growth and a source of inward investment. In 2014-15, Australia approved A$46.bn in Chinese investments, almost double the number-two foreign investor, the US.

Disclaimer

The material contained in this Publication is solely intended to inform readers of general legal information and/or developments. It is not intended, and should not be relied upon, as a legal or other professional advice or an opinion of any kind. Harvey Law Group (“HLG”) is not liable and in any way responsible for any harm or damages resulting from the use of the information contained on this Publication for legal or any other purposes. All rights reserved.