SLG Newsletter March 2019
Dear Friends and Clients,
The (office) party is over. It marked our 14th year in this country and we welcomed over 40 guests who enjoyed themselves along with the relaxing atmosphere in the garden of our office villa. The outstanding and forward-looking speeches by the Austrian Commercial Counsellor, Mr. Bandera, and the financial expert, Gordian Gaeta, were received with great interest. As the host, I pointed out the almost 1 1/2 decades of highly professional legal services provided. Finally, my eldest daugther, Anjarika Strohal, was able to make some remarks about a non-existent generational conflict and the imminent “rejuvenation” in the chancery leadership. Last but not least, the excellent buffet, catered by Tower Links restaurant, contributed to the success of the evening.
With almost the same joy as the law firm’s annul party, we can hear the UAE Cabinet approved a new decree, granting equality between government holidays and private sector holidays. It would be pleasing if this “balancing of the two sectors” would also be performed in other areas, such as in labor law, where Emirati citizens are still far favored over foreign workers, thus preventing many investors from employing Emirati citizens.
Looking in the right light at the visits of the UAE’s Crown Prince in South Korea and Singapore, trade and economic relationships are likely to change more from the West to the East. As predicted by economists, the future of the global economy lies east of the Arabian peninsula, and the country is well advised to follow this lead. We have followed this trend in the right direction and have been creating the link to the Far East for our clients since 1996 (Singapore) and 2011 (Myanmar). We have also recently added Cambodia, Thailand and Laos to our consulting portfolio.
Looking into Thailand’s new Competition Law, it remains to be seen whether this decree really creates a remedy against the business policy of the overpowering large corporations. The conglomerates with their hundreds of octopus tentacles in almost all business areas makes it difficult for foreign investors to gain a foothold.
The military junta, which has been in power since 2014, is criticized by the country’s economists. Nonetheless, the economy seems to be thriving, the Thai Baht has peaked above the USD and EURO, and there is the lowest unemployment rate in decades. Last Sunday’s elections are beaten but not yet finally counted. There seems to be a head-to-race between the military party and the Taksin-related party. What is most important to us foreigners, however, is peace and quiet, no matter who governs.
When making economic decisions, it is especially important to have an overview of all pros and cons, which country offers the most benefits, the best laws, the lowest taxation, the highest standards of living, the best possible political stability, etc. In order to include these factors in the decision, it needs professional advice from highly experienced law firms such as ours.
Private and Public Sectors now have the same holidays
The UAE Cabinet has approved the holidays for the year 2019-2020 and announced that it will grant the same number of holidays for both public and private sectors. The decree will balance the two sectors and help support the national economy. Furthermore, this decision allows all residents to plan their vacations ahead and will encourage more Emiratis to consider working in the private sector.
RAKEZ launches package for “young entrepreneurs”
Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ) has announced the Mubader Package, to provide for the needs of final year students and fresh graduates in setting up their own business. The package includes: a business license, a shared work station, ongoing business support, UAE residence visa eligibility, and more. There are 5 license types offered and it includes the buying and selling of goods and services, educational, e-commerce, media, and service licenses. According to RAKEZ CEO Ramy Jallad, “The package is pocket-friendly, but more than that, it is packed with everything they need, including dedicated support at every step and shared working spaces where they can collaborate and network with fellow entrepreneurs.”
DMCC announces roadshow to promote trade and opportunities
Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) will launch roadshows to countries including China, India, Germany, UK, Spain and Sweden. The campaign will start in the UK on March 28 with dates to be announced for the next countries. DMCC is currently home to 15,000 businesses and is one of the largest free zones in the world in terms of concentration of businesses. Feryal Ahmadi Chief Operating Office of DMCC noted, “By hosting roadshows around the world, I have no doubt we will witness a sharp increase in the number of international companies seeking to join DMCC and help us deliver our growth strategy and drive Dubai’s gross domestic product”.
Changes in Dubai Customer Centers:
Dubai Police has announced that 8 services will no longer be available at the police’s customer service centers and will only be available online via the e-platform and smart application. The services stated were:
– Payment of traffic violations
– Request on converting payments by installment through credit card
– Re-issuance of lost traffic accident report
– Issuance of traffic violations list
– Issuance of traffic clearance certificates
– Issuance of traffic status certificates
– Issuance of traffic accident report against an unknown person
– Issuance of reports on traffic accidents without injuries
It has been mentioned that payments can also be done at money exchange centers and smart kiosks located at malls and other areas all over the country. By July 2019, four more services will be added to the e-platforms.
UAE meets Far East: His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nayhan in Seoul, South Korea:
Several Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) have been signed between South Korea and UAE during the visit of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nayhan in Seoul. The agreements included matters in tourism, smart agriculture and environment, double taxation avoidance, “strategic dialogue”, industrial cooperation, investment, promotion of cleaner production concepts and applications, and the “Hydrogen City”. Both countries agree to:
– Improve their strategic partnership
– Pursue future-oriented mutual growth and enhance current economic cooperation
– Enhance people-to-people exchanges through people-centered cooperation
– Establish partnership playing a leading role in regional peace and stability
UAE meets Far East 2: UAE boost trade and tourism ties with Singapore
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nayhan met with Singapore’s President Halimah Yacob after his visit in South Korea. Several topics about trade, economic investments, tourism and cultural and educational exchanges were discussed during the meeting. Later on, Sheikh Mohammed also met with Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Discussions about trade and investment, cooperation, education, and health were tackled. Following the talks, both countries aim to:
– Bolster cooperation
– Open up new horizons for the benefit of their people
– Serve regional and global development
– Achieve regional and international peace and security
– Consider concepts of tolerance, dialogue and coexistence among other nations
Several agreements were signed between the two countries with regards to education, technology, and the environment. Sheikh Mohammed mentioned in his tweet, “Our meeting with Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is a testament to the strength of our ties. Singapore’s development model is a pioneering experience, and we seek to learn from it.”
Thailand: New Trade Competition Commission appointed
On 27 December 2018, the Prime Minister signed the Order of the Prime Minister’s Office No. 350/2561 formally appointing the Trade Competition Commission (“TCC”).
In this update, we will identify a few of the key differences between the Old TCA and the New TCA, in particular:
– The establishment of a merger control regime,
– Changes to the control of abuses of dominance,
– Changes to the regulation of anti-competitive agreements, and
– Creating a dual adjudication process and granting the TCC the power to impose administrative penalties.