SLG Newsletter: November-December 2019

Dear Friends and Clients,

We have arrived at the end of the second decade of this century (and millennium). But I do not want to write a review about past times here, there are sufficient of those in the media.

The question is rather which path we are on and where it leads us to, when we enter the 3rd decade?

The political and economic background has changed dramatically worldwide. We are in an era of rising protectionism, nationalism and opportunism. There is little evidence of tolerance and humanism among the leaders of the world powers. There is exclusion, segregation and narrowing down. And under these circumstances it seems all the more remarkable that our host country, the UAE, has proclaimed the ending year 2019 as a Year of Tolerance. Again, the Emirates demonstrate their status as one of the most tolerant Islamic countries.

China’s share of the global economy in 2020 is forecast at 20%, the USA at 17 and India at 7%. In the forecast for 2030, China is 28% ahead of the USA with 18% and India with 11%. Europe is forecast to account for 12% of the world GDP.

So there is no question where the flexible businessman should turn to. Asia is the future and Arabia will – if security policy continues – always remain a hub between Asia and Europe.

In Asian philosophy, valuations are described as unwholesome. When we judge, we bring our ego into the decision, are not objective enough to choose the optimal path. Our subjective view prevents us from clearly recognizing our chances and the pitfalls. So if we neutrally accept what is happening as an event, if we do not attach a rating of “this is good or bad” to these situations, we have the chance to recognize our advantages at the right moment.

Our law firms expand; new corporate structures are introduced. Our Singapore Law Firm has acquired 100% of the Myanmar Chamber due to the new corporate law which made such acquisition possible.

A further office in Cambodia is planned. A business consultancy will be opened in Thailand, concentrating on local operations and immigration.

Also in the UAE, corporate changes are in the works. New partnerships are imminent, and relocation to other Emirates is also being considered.

So we enter this new decade with a clear vision. I have been through seven decades of life and 45 years in the legal business, learned a lot, made mistakes and gained experience. I look forward to the future with confidence. I can invite you to join me.

Wishing you a happy new year.


Theodor Strohal

Office News:

Singapore – Myanmar: Strohal Legal Group PTE Ltd (Sing) will acquire 100% of the shares of Strohal Legal Group Comp. Ltd (Myanmar).

Theodor Strohal will be in Vienna from 14 to 23 January. Appointments can be made through our office in UAE.

Dubai: Verena Nosko, Theodor Strohal und Jakob Kisser will be speakers at the Legal Forum of the German Emirates Club on 27 January. Subject: CRS, BEPS, Double Taxation, Immigration, Work Permits, Visa. The speeches will be held in German.

Dubai: Theodor Strohal and Jakob Kisser will be speakers at the Breakfast Briefing of the Austrian Business Council on 26 February. Subject: CRS, BEPS, Social Insurance, Pension payments.

UAE approves Insolvency Law for individuals

The UAE cabinet has approved a new Federal Law “Decree-Law No. (19) of 2019 on the Insolvency of Natural Persons” and will come into effect on January 2020. The law will increase transparency in civil debts and strengthen financial security, accelerate growth and help individuals to obtain loans without difficulty, and will guarantee the protection of the debtor’s dignity as a natural person. It will also support individuals who are facing current and anticipated financial problems by giving them enough time to settle and pay their financial obligations on time.

New rules at DMCC’s to enhance ease of doing business

Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) has released new rules and regulations to be effective from 2nd of January 2020, updating the free zone’s company law framework. Enhancements include:

– Increased flexibility around a company’s Article of Association

– Introduction of different share types, allowing businesses to tailor the structure of shareholdings

– New dormant status

– Increased ability to transfer company incorporation into DMCC

DMCC keeps improving and developing its rules and regulations to enhance the ease of doing business for existing and future clients. The Authority remains as the Global Free Zone of the Year five years in a row.

UAE: New rules for authentication of commercial documents from Germany

Since November, all commercial documents for the UAE – with the exception of commercial invoices and certificates of origin – must be end-certified by the Federal Office of Administration (BVA). The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Berlin has announced that all other commercial documents must be fully authenticated by the BVA prior to submission to the Arab-German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (Ghorfa). Depending on the type of document, these must be issued/certified/certified by the respective responsible authority beforehand. Notarial certified documents must then be authenticated by the responsible district court president. Documents issued/certified by the relevant competent authority must then be authenticated by the higher administrative authority.

The “Dubai Now App” allows fast residence application

Smart Dubai and the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs in Dubai have launched the UAE Residency Application Services on the Dubai Now app. The process will usually take 40 minutes, giving applicants 10 minutes to complete their application, followed by the approval which only takes 30 minutes to 2 working days. Other services offered in the platform include, issuing, renewing, cancellation of residency visas and managing dependents. It allows applicants to save nearly AED 200 for new residency applications and AED 100 on renewals brought by printing fees. So far 350 have used the app since its launch last month.


Singapore: Top spot in Asia for protection of IP rights

Singapore hailed as top one in Asia and fourth place worldwide in protecting Intellectual Property (IP) rights. It topped in three categories namely, physical property rights, IP rights and the legal and political environment to enforce these rights. Singapore has retained its title as number one in Asia and has moved one tier up worldwide due to several improvements initiated by the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore.

Singapore: Free trade agreement between EU-Singapore comes into force

EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA) finally came into force this November. The EUSFTA was approved by the council of the EU this November 8. However, EU-Singapore Investment Protection Agreement (EUSIPA) is still under ratification which may take up to two years. Singapore companies will greatly benefit in the implementation of the agreement. Some of the benefits include:

  1. Elimination of Customs Duties
  2. Better access to service sectors
  3. Opportunities to participate in government procurement projects
  4. Stronger protection of Intellectual Property Rights
  5. Improved market access
  6. Reduction of technical and non-tariff barriers

In connection with this, the provisions in the Intellectual Property (Border Enforcement) Act 2018 relating to border enforcement measures in the Copyright Act and the Trade Marks Act has also taken effect.

Thailand: More manufacturers relocating from Hong Kong and China

There are a significant number of manufacturers relocating their production bases from China and Hong Kong to other ASEAN because of the China-US trade war. In Thailand, the Board of Investment has reported that applications have increased during the first half of the year with projects worth 31 billion baht mostly from auto parts, plastics, machinery and furniture businesses. In order to attract more businesses to relocate, the BOI has approved Thailand Plus incentives. It offers enhanced incentive package for projects worth at least one billion baht of investment, incentives for companies engaged in human resource development, and revised incentives to encourage corporates to set up STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) or educational and vocational training institutions. The countries that top foreign direct investment applications are Japan, China and Switzerland.

Myanmar: Country climbs in ease of doing business index of World Bank

Myanmar has improved its ranking on the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 by six positions and is among the 20 reformers of the year. One of the main reasons that impacted the country’s improvement is the implementation of the 2017 Myanmar Companies Law which resulted to hassle-free business start-ups, easy property registrations and protection among minority investments. According to entrepreneurs, corruption level and red tape has also declined. Company registration now takes only 2 days to process. Despite all these, Myanmar however still lies behind among its neighboring Asian nations and the government is trying its best to keep up with their efforts.

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