Orient Magazine Issue 83 - August 2021 - Page 30

Singapore ' s Multi-Ministry Taskforce announce new travel tier system and reduced safe distancing measures for vaccinated residents
With the majority of the resident population now vaccinated , the Multi-Ministry Taskforce announced this month that countries / regions will be classified in one of four categories , each with differentiated border measures , based on a traveller ’ s 21-day travel history prior to their entry into Singapore . If the traveller visits or transits through countries / regions in different categories , the most stringent set of requirements among those countries / regions will apply . Read more about the tiers in the MTI infographic on the right , or visit http :// safetravel . ica . gov . sg .
Beyond the tier framework , a new Vaccinated Travel Lane will facilitate fully vaccinated persons to travel into Singapore under reduced border measures . Put simply , the VTL pilot provides for a limited number of non-stop designated flights of vaccinated individuals travelling for any purpose , who will not have to serve a SHN , but will have to undergo extensive testing . Singaporean Citizens and permanent residents will not need to apply for a pass to use a VTL ( but are subject to all other conditions ), whereas pass holders will need to apply for a Vaccinated Travel Pass ( VTP ) between 7 and 30 days before their intended date of entry into Singapore . The pilot will begin with Brunei and Germany ( both Tier 2 countries ) from 1 September , at which time applications will open for any necessary passes .
From 21 August , ICA will issue a tamper-proof vaccination sticker to be affixed onto the passport of newly arrived travellers who were fully vaccinated overseas with a WHO- Emergency Use Listing ( EUL ) vaccine , and who can furnish a valid , English-language vaccination certificate . These travellers will be eligible for vaccination-differentiated safe management measures if they produce their passport with the valid tamper-proof sticker affixed . To obtain this sticker , travellers should produce their English-language vaccination certificates to ICA officers at the Singapore immigration checkpoints upon arrival . By September , the IT systems will also be enhanced so that travellers , upon verification of their eligible vaccination status at entry , will also be recognised by the SafeEntry Business app through their TraceTogether Apps / Tokens to be eligible for vaccination-differentiated safe management measures .
For guidance on local safe distancing measures visit our Covid Information Hub at covid . britcham . org . sg
31 SPECIAL FEATURE: THE FUTURE OF TRADE IN FOCUS INTERVIEW Vistra provides a full comple- ment of corporate services for businesses in the region. Let’s start with some advice for British businesses considering entering the market. What three pieces of advice would you offer as they start their journey? Every market is unique, particularly Southeast Asia, from the ease of doing business in Singapore to higher diffi- culty in Indonesia, and varying levels in between, such as Malaysia. So our ad- vice would be firstly - do your due dili- gence. If you’re considering expanding internationally for the first time, or if you already have a presence abroad and are considering operating in a new country, it’s critical to understand that virtually every expansion is unique. Many factors will dictate your compli- ance obligations, risks, and budget. These include home- and host-country laws, the nature of your activities, and your goals and risk tolerances. In Focus Caroline Baker, Managing Director, Southeast Asia, Vistra For our Special Feature on the Future of Trade our Editor reached out to Annual Partners Vistra, who support new market entrants in various jurisdictions including Singapore and Southeast Asia. In this interview with Managing Director for the region Caroline Baker, we share takeaways for companies considering entering the market, which sectors are showing signs of growth in 2021, and whether the proposed minimum corporate tax rate will have any direct impacts to businesses here on the ground. Secondly, set realistic timelines. In planning, identify the target country (based on market demand, ease of operations in-country, and/or other factors), an appropriate local entity type that will minimize costs and risks, the staff required for the first few years, operational costs (including but not limited to rent and taxes), and a reasonable estimate for revenue and return. Establishing a legal entity overseas generally takes between two weeks and six months, depending on the country, the type of legal entity selected, and other factors such as requirements to have a physical office space or a local bank account. The more requirements, the longer the set- up time. With an entity in place, your compa- ny will be legally compliant, meaning you’ll be prepared to accept business, employ staff, and pay taxes. There is an option to consider an Employer of Record to hire staff if you do not have a local entity in place. In addition, you’ll also need to factor in time to inte- grate your corporate operations with HQ, and consider how the financial management accounts, revenue model, and corporate tax position of the new host-country operation will fit into the home country’s financial and fiscal arrangements. Lastly, when in doubt, consult an expert and don’t assume anything. Keep in mind that you’ll almost cer- tainly have to hire experts, from out- side law firms to local payroll provid- ers. And those experts and providers should be thoroughly vetted to ensure you’re receiving timely, authoritative advice and locally compliant services. There’s no way around it: You’ll have to spend a lot of time and effort if you choose one of these routes and still want to remain compliant in your tar- get countries. Singapore has been an attractive re- gional hub for international business- es, with a corporate income tax rate at 17% and is ranked 2nd globally by the World Bank as one of the easiest places to do business. On the other hand, it’s also one of the most expensive cities for expatriates according to Mercer’s 2020 Cost of Living Survey. Therefore, as you start your expansion journey, especially considering the current pandemic situation, it is imperative to plan ahead and work with the right partners. Focusing on Singapore, which sectors and industries are show- ing signs of growth and increas- ing interest for new market entrants this year, particularly considering the developments in trade agreements? Under the UKSFTA signed in December 2020, companies will be able to enjoy the same EUSFTA benefits when trad- ing between the UK and Singapore as previously. The benefits include tariff elimination for goods trade, increased access to services and government procurement markets, and a reduction of non-tariff barriers. The UK has also recently been confirmed as a Dialogue Partner for ASEAN, further cementing its status in the region. According to the ACRA formation of business entities by sector for the first half of this year (see figure 1), the top 5 sector types, not specifically for UK businesses, are: • • • • • Administrative & Support Service Activities Retail trade Wholesale trade Financial & Insurance Activities Information & Communications This mirrors the interest we are seeing in terms of new market entrants, plus an increase in interest from the asset management sector. For businesses looking to expand, with the recent restrictions, what is your advice for companies looking to use Singapore as a business hub for Southeast Asia? Our main piece of advice would be to work with the right partner on the ground. It is likely that lockdowns and travel restrictions continue to exist for some time as countries grapple with the COVID-19 situation, making it challenging for any business travel (e.g. to conduct due diligence and market research) as well as for compa- ny directors and boards to fulfill their fiduciary duties. Remote work arrangement has become the new normal for many international companies. Employing remote work- ers has advantages, from reducing office-lease costs to expanding talent pools, yet it also comes with some risks, especially if you employ and pay workers across borders. Salary payment in different jurisdictions can trigger compliance obligations related to tax, social security, work permits, insurance, data transfers and more. Companies can consider working with the right partner on the ground to outsource the administrative functions of their business such as incorpora- tion, business bank account opening and immigration requirements, so they could focus on their core business activities without the stress of navigat- ing compliance when expanding their business internationally. What should businesses know about the proposed minimum corporate tax rate? Finance Ministers of 20 of the world’s largest economies have recently agreed to set an effective global mini- mum tax of 15% on multinationals with more than $890 million in revenue, expect- ed to take effect in 2023. While broad alignment on a comprehensive, standardised international tax archi- tecture has remained elusive, agree- ment on the core principles may now be within reach. SPECIAL FEATURE: THE FUTURE OF TRADE IN FOCUS INTERVIEW