- “Strong progress seen on international tax transparency”, OECD, June 28th, 2017
- Tax evasion continues to challenge governments in developing and developed countries alike, depriving them of resources that would otherwise be available to support sustainable development through investments in infrastructure, health and other common goods. While globalisation has brought many opportunities and advances, its dark side has included the greater ease with which individuals can shift income and assets offshore and out of sight of tax authorities.
- The OECDhosted Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes has been working to enhance global tax transparency, end banking secrecy and protect public finances by curtailing tax evasion since 2008. It has developed a series of international tax transparency standards and constantly monitors and reviews implementation and adhesion by its 142 members. It is part of the international efforts on tax transparency that also include the OECD/G20 BEPS Initiative.
- The Global Forum established a FastTrack review process to evaluate continuing efforts by some jurisdictions to meet transparency standards in the run-up to the G20 Summit. The latest results of the Fast Track review show that progress has now been made by most jurisdictions in meeting the international tax transparency standards.
- Largely Compliant Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Costa Rica, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, the Federated States of Micronesia, Lebanon, Nauru, Panama, Samoa, the United Arab Emirates and Vanuatu.
- Mia Rabson, “Trudeau, Irish PM tout benefits of Canada-EU trade pact”, CBC News, July 4th, 2017
- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is leaning on Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar to help convince his European counterparts to give the goahead to the Canada-Europe free trade agreement.
- CETA will give Canadian and Irish businesses greater access to each other's markets; it will deliver stronger economic growth," said Trudeau.
- Canada is hoping the deal will help it diversify its economy beyond the United States, while Ireland wants it because it is tied at the hip economically with Britain, a country that's in the throes of a messy withdrawal from the EU.
- Kim Hart, “Canada’s play for immigrant tech talent”, Axios, July 5th, 2017
- Canada recently launched a Global Skills Strategy visa program to make it easier for its companies to bring in foreign workers with specific technology or business skills. The program allows firms to have a position preapproved and get visas within two weeks — a stark contrast to the months-long U.S. visa process.
- Navdeep Bains, Canada's Minister of Innovation, told Axios that Canada wants to be open to ideas, open to trade, and "more importantly, we want to be open to people" in order for companies to grow. Bains stopped short of framing the program as a way to poach talent from Silicon Valley, instead saying that the government is "open to whatever region has talent.”
- Canada has tried to lure Silicon Valley talent through its Go North program that launched late last year, which touts the country's 71,000 tech companies that account for 5.6% of total employment — more than the U.S. The program is largely aimed at Canadian expats, many of which have settled in the San Francisco Bay area, Seattle and London.
- ‘’Passports Republics – How citizenship by investment drives growth in the Caribbean’’, Investment Migration Insider, July 10th, 2017
- It’s difficult to overstate the significance of citizenship by investment programs to Carribean economies. While there’s no way to measure with any degree of accuracy the indirect contribution CBI has on a country’s GDP – such as the employment created by new real estate developments and the added disposable income spent by those hired to erect them – even ignoring such trickledowns, the story told by the readily traceable sums alone is one in which CBI is a mainstay of Caribbean economies.
- Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua & Barbuda, said in 2015 that CBIfunds represented about a quarter of his government’s revenue. For every 25 applicants who choose the program’s real estate option – which 47 of them did last year – the Antiguan economy grows by one percent.
- Already by the CIP’s second year of operations, Grenada made twice as much selling passports as it did selling all its other export goods – nutmeg, cocoa, bananas and so on – combined.
St. Kitts and Nevis
- “St. Kitts and Nevis announces addition of residency programme to CBI”, St Kitts & Nevis Observer, July 6th, 2017
- The Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) said it is adding value to the range of programmes on offer by making available a residency programme to people wanting to live and work in St. Kitts and Nevis.
- During the conference, [Les] Khan met with lawyers and wealth managers representing clients throughout the Asia Pacific region. Their interests were in residency and citizenship programmes as a means of tax and wealth planning. Khan showcased the immigration and investment options in St Kitts and Nevis to convey that St. Kitts and Nevis’ citizenship programme is now “the strongest in the Caribbean.”
- The prime minister, the Honourable Dr. Timothy Harris, said “With the St Kitts and Nevis programme now globally recognised for its integrity and platinum standard, it made sense that the natural next step would be to offer a residency programme that would meet a specific customer’s need. It will also stimulate tourism, as well as offer our developers another avenue for marketing their projects. It’s a virtuous circle of mutual benefit.
- “The programme will still maintain its high standards of due diligence,” he said. “It is intended to offer our economic citizens the ability to obtain a residency card as long as they are willing to spend a period of time on the island. In addition, individuals not wanting citizenship at this time can apply for residency status and in the future convert to citizenship should they wish to do so.”
- Clive Bacchus, ‘’Details To CIP Residency Option To Be Revealed In Two Weeks’’, Winn FM, July 7th, 2017
- The government is announcing plans to offer a residency option to the country's Citizenship By Investment Program and promises that details will be forthcoming in two weeks time. A press release credits CEO of the Citizenship by Investment Unit Les Khan as making the announcement at a conference in Singapore on June 30.
- He reportedly said St Kitts and Nevis can offer a residency program without changing any laws. Mr. Khan is also reported as saying that economic citizens have expressed a demand to be registered as residents here.
- Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris is quoted in the press release as saying the move makes sense as offering a residency program would meet a specific customer need, stimulate tourism and offer developers another avenue for marketing their projects.
- Rashid Shirinov, “ASAN Visa to be available at customs checkpoints”, Azer News, July 4th, 2017
- ASAN Visa system is improving in Azerbaijan, and it will be possible to get an evisa to enter the country just in three hours. The system will be applied not only at airports but also at the customs checkpoints.
- Garayev further mentioned that the relations between Azerbaijan and Iran, the two neighboring and friendly countries, are on the rise, and the presidents of both countries have done great work in this regard.
- ASAN Visa also simplified the travel of Iranian tourists to the country. Now Iranian tourists wishing to come to Azerbaijan do not need to contact the Consulate in Tehran, as they can get a visa online.
- In general, today citizens of 93 countries take advantage of Azerbaijan’s ASAN Visa system. Electronic visa is a document for one entry, which determines the period of stay in the country up to 30 days.
- Michelle Price and James Pomfret, “HK20: Hong Kong residents seek British passports amid fears for city’s future”, Hong Kong Free Press, July 2nd, 2017
- Many Hong Kong residents, worried about growing encroachment by Beijing as the financial hub marks 20 years since its return to China, are rushing to secure British passports as a safety net in the case of social unrest or the erosion of civil liberties.
- Hong Kong foreign passport holders and diplomats interviewed by Reuters say the rush for overseas protection has been fuelled by the territory’s divisive battle for democracy, especially the “Occupy” street protests of 2014, and increasing calls for independence, a red line for Beijing.
- BN(O)s do not automatically confer right of abode in the United Kingdom, but holders can visit visafree for six months and are entitled to British consular protection.
- Canada saw a growing number of new citizens from Hong Kong in the 10 years to 2015. Taiwan saw a boost in 2016, as a total of 1,086 Hong Kong Chinese became Taiwan permanent residents, the highest figure for the last decade.
- Shirley Zhao, “American trade body urges visa-free access for Hongkongers”, South China Morning Post, July 3rd, 2017
- The American Chamber of Commerce has called on the US government to grant visafree travel status for Hong Kong SAR passport holders, a measure that would smooth the way for over 100,000 visitors a year.
- Chamber chairman Walter Dias said: “We understand that the current administration is focused on bilateral trade agreements and asked for more governmentto-government engagement to ensure US interests are represented in the Asia Pacific region.
- Australia, New Zealand, Brunei, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan are already in the waiver programme.
- “US rolls out expedited entry for low-risk Indian travellers”, The Economic Times, July 4th, 2017
- The US has started rolling out for India its Global Entry programme which allows for expedited clearance of preapproved, low-risk travellers.
- With this India has becomes only the 11th country whose citizens are eligible to enroll in the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) initiative.
- At these airports, the members proceed to the Global Entry kiosks, present their machinereadable passport or US permanent resident card, place their fingerprints on the scanner for fingerprint verification and complete a customs declaration.
- It is now available to US citizens, Green Card holders and nationals from Argentina, Colombia, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, Panama, The Republic of Korea, Singapore, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, besides India.
- Joseph Kaos Jr, “You will be fined for losing your passport”, The Star Online, July 1st, 2017
- “Passport holders need to be more responsible and careful,” said Immigration Department directorgeneral Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali.
- The Malaysian passport is among the world’s most desirable travel documents, as it allows the holder to travel to 156 countries without a visa, or qualify for visaon-arrival.
- In fact, the Global Passport Power Rank 2017 ranked the Malaysian passport as the fourth most powerful in the world, a position it shares with Japan, Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria and Portugal.
- “The Malaysian passport is not cheap to make, and is of high quality. Fining those who lose their passports will make them more responsible,” Mustafar told a press conference here yesterday.
- “E-visa becomes big hit”, Oman Tribune, July 3rd, 2017
- The response to the recently introduced evisa system has been encouraging, according to a top official of the Royal Oman Police.
- Many wanting to visit the Sultanate were granted tourist visas, Oman eVisa Project In-charge Lieutenant Colonel Abdullah Al Kalbani told Oman Tribune on Monday. Though he did not give the exact numbers, he said the response was very good and within a short period, other types like business visas and sponsored one would be made available electronically.
- On June 19, when the evisa system was launched, ROP had said people from 67 listed countries and residents in the GCC states involved in 116 occupations could apply for tourist visas under the new system. At a later stage, the remaining countries would be added to the list. Once an application is made, a visa will be generated and sent electronically. The applicant would have to produce the e-visa on arrival.
- “Dependent fee hits expats in Saudi Arabia”, Khaleej Times, July 5th, 2017
- The new dependent fee introduced by Saudi Arabia has hit expats who were going on vacation with their families during the peak holiday season, according to reports.
- When the expats tried to pay exitentry visa fee for family members, they were prompted by the online payment system to first clear the dependent fee for the remaining months of the validity of their iqamas (residence permits), reported the Saudi Gazette.
- The payment of dependent fee is not only directly linked with the renewal of iqama but also the issuance of exitreentry visa, whichever comes first, the report adds.
- “10-year visa arrives”, Pattaya Today, July 2nd, 2017
- The government has finally agreed the bones of a new 10 year visa which will be introduced nationally in midAugust. Aimed at wealthier retirees who must be at least 50 years old, applicants are required to have 3 million baht in a Thai bank account or 1.8 million in the account and proof of income from abroad of 1.2 million.
- The new visa “O/X” will be issued for two separate periods of five years, with unlimited reentry rights, but with the need to report the Thai address every 90 days the holder spends in Thailand. Any kind of employment, including voluntary work, continues to be outlawed in this new visa.
- The new visa seeks to broaden the base of foreigners who will have medical insurance, thus arguably reducing the financial burden on Thai public hospitals. A separate proposal, not yet confirmed, is that all shortterm, foreign tourists will need travel insurance – although that is much less comprehensive than full medical cover. If implemented, that would leave the one year extension of stay foreigners – retirees, students and those with a Thai spouse – the only group not requiring some form of insurance. At any rate for now.
United Arab Emirates
- Nyree McFarlane, ‘’The UAE has said it will halve the time it takes to process a residence visa’’, What’s On, July 9th, 2017
- Waiting for your residence visa before you can get your life started in the UAE? Well, in a few months’ time that wait will be shorter, as the UAE government has just committed to halving the time it takes to process a residence permit for private sector workers in the UAE.
- And they’ve said they’ll get the process to 50% faster in just 100 days (aka, in a little over three months).
- It currently takes from about 10 days to three weeks to process a residence visa, and it can be more. How quick it is depends on whether you’re in a free zone (where it’s faster) or whether you’re at a standard company overseen by the Ministry of Labour (where the wait time is longer). It also, let’s be honest, varies depending on the efficiency of your company.
- “OECD welcomes Vietnam’s commitment to implement the internationally agreed standards to tackle tax evasion and avoidance”, OECD, June 21st, 2017
- Vietnam has become the 100th jurisdiction to join the Inclusive Framework on BEPS ("IF") on an equal footing with all other IF members
- The announcement represents another important step forward by Viet Nam in the international tax arena as well as in the AsiaPacific region where Viet Nam's active leadership in its role of host and Chair of the APEC Finance Ministers' Process in 2017 has been widely recognised in the support of the BEPS Project and its consistent implementation throughout APEC Economies.
- Vietnam has also stated its commitment towards greater tax transparency by expressing its interest to join the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters ("the Convention") and the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes (the Global Forum).
- “Belarus considering 30-day visa-free program for China”, Belarus News, July 6th, 2017
- Belarus is considering a 30day visa-free program for China, Belarus Deputy Sport and Tourism Minister Mikhail Portnoi told the media on 6 July, BelTA has learned.
- “Such an agreement was reached after the meeting of the Presidents of Belarus and China in May. Now we are working on introducing visafree entry for Chinese citizens traveling to Belarus with general civil passports for up to 30 days,” Mikhail Portnoi noted. He said that China is a key market for Belarus, therefore the country is considering such liberalisation of the visa requirements.
- Earlier, Belarus and China agreed to cancel visas for tourist groups. Such trips can be organised by certain travel agencies designated by government agencies of the two countries. Tourist groups should include five and more people. According to the Belarusian National Statistics Committee, over 1,500 Chinese tourists visited Belarus as part of organised groups in 2016.
- “Citizenship by investment is all that stands between GDP growth and brutal recession for Cyprus”, Investment Migration Insider, July 4th, 2017
- Local property developers’ protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, the Cypriot economy is in the black largely thanks to the country’s Citizenship by Investment Programme. It may have a flourishing tourist sector and recently discovered offshore gas reserves potentially worth US$50 billion but, as it stands, the country’s economic activity would indisputably be undergoing severe economic contraction were it not for its readiness to naturalize significant investors.
- Finance Minister Harris Georgiades recently confirmed that some 2,000 passports had been issued under the Cyprus CIP since the reform of the program in 2013 and until April this year.
- A statement from Minister of the Interior Socratis Hasikos in 2015 revealed that the program brought in EUR 2.5 billion between 2013 and November 2015. By August 2016, the total amount invested through the program had risen to EUR 3 billion, before reaching EUR 4 billion by April 2017.
- “Malta Residence Visa Program issues wide-ranging policy changes”, Investment Migration Insider, July 5th, 2017
- Executive Chairman of the Malta Residence Visa Agency – the official government agency that administers the Malta Residence Visa Programme – Roderick Cutajar, has informed Investment Migration Insider that a series of changes to the program requirements will come into effect as of today.
- In his interview with Investment Migration Insider, published some two weeks ago, Cutajar revealed that he was planning to implement significant changes to the program based in large part on the feedback he’s been getting from international immigration agents and their clients, in order to make the MRVP even more competitive.
- The changes; The thirty thousand euro (€ 30,000) contribution fee now covers the main applicant, spouse, and the children of the main applicant and/or the spouse at application stage; Introduction of an additional five thousand euro (€5,000) nonrefundable contribution, per parent or grandparent of the main applicant or of the spouse at application stage; The age limit (previously 27) at application stage for unmarried, economically dependant children over the age 18 has been removed. This means that qualifying children over the age of 27 at the time of application can be included; Removal of the requirement for the main applicant and his/her dependants to spend outside of Malta a period that exceeds either six consecutive months or an aggregate period of ten months in any four-year period from the appointed day; The option for the main applicant, to apply against a non-refundable supplementary administration fee of five thousand euro (€ 5,000) per person, to include on the main beneficiary certificate (subject to a successful due diligence check).
- Chloe Farand, “Brexit: Nearly 60% of Leave voters would now pay to retain EU citizenship”, Independent, July 2nd, 2017
- Findings shown to The Independent suggest many who opted for Brexit at last year’s referendum would pay more than £1,000 to keep benefits of EU rights. As many as 58 per cent of people who voted to leave the EU are now willing to pay to keep their European citizenship, a poll has found.
- On average, respondents said they would expect to pay £405 per year, which included 32 per cent of people who would not be willing to pay anything.
- “It shows that young people are very attached to their European citizenship. These are people who were born in a world with 28 member states and more than 500 million people – suddenly, their world has got much smaller.
- There is no existing legislation or precedent over whether EU citizenship can be stripped from an individual whose nation is leaving the union.
- Helen Warrell, “British businesses lobby for fewer visa restrictions post-Brexit”, Financial Times, July 3rd, 2017
- British businesses are lobbying for a visa system that allows unrestricted entry for talented overseas entrepreneurs and tech experts postBrexit.
- Proposals from London First, the business group, acknowledge that employers must do more to help train local workers to meet skills gaps. But the group is calling for a long “transition phase” of up to six years after the UK leaves the EU to allow a sufficient number of overseas workers to fill jobs in industries with skills shortages, such as engineering.
- London First has suggested that the minimum salary for incoming migrant workers should initially be lower than the current threshold for employees from outside the EU, which is set at £30,000.
- The proposals reflect a growing anxiety among chief executives about the supply of workers in the UK postBrexit. EU nationals make up 12 per cent of London’s total workforce, and represent 15 per cent of employees in financial services, a third of construction workers and more than one in ten NHS doctors.
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