December 2018

  • Bulgaria
    • 2018 Manual on VAT published

      On 7 December 2018, the National Revenue Agency published on its website the updated 2018 version of the manual on value added tax. The manual provides a detailed overview of the applicable legislation as well as numerous examples with comments by the authorities.
    • Amendment to Corporate Income Tax Act gazetted

      On 13 December 2018, an amendment to the Corporate Income Tax Act was published in the State Gazette. It provides that from 1 January 2019 an exemption from corporate income tax will be available for alternative investment funds created for the implementation of financial instruments on the basis of financing agreements within the meaning of article 38(7) of Regulation (EC) No 1303/2013 of 17 December 2013. This provision deals with investments in certain newly created entities.
    • Proposed amendments to Regulations for application of Value Added Tax Act

      On 30 November 2018, the Ministry of Finance published for public consultation a proposal for amendments to Regulations for the application of the Value Added Tax Act. The proposal includes the following main topics:
      • new notifications that taxable persons should submit to tax authorities in specific cases in relation to the introduction of the threshold of EUR 10,000 for EU cross-border supplies of B2C digital services as of 1 January 2019;
      • evidence (documents) required for applying 0% VAT for supplies meeting the immediate needs of vessels and aircraft used by airline performing chiefly international flights or trains in relation to international transport;
      • additional details on the application of the postponed accounting of import VAT that should be possible as of 1 July 2019; and
      • clarifications on the determination of the taxable base in special cases (e.g. free of charge supplies, personal use of business assets).
      The public consultation will continue until 30 December 2018. Further developments will be reported when they occur.
  • China
    • State Council Issues Interim Measures for Special Individual Income Tax Deductions

      The State Council recently issued the Interim Measures for Special Individual Income Tax Deductions. The document was further polished based on public opinions. According to the interim measures, if taxpayers' children are educated at foreign schools or they are receiving continuing professional education, they should keep the foreign school's admission letters as well as continuing education certificates to be subject to future examinations. The maximum taxable income deductions on medical cost stemming from serious diseases are lifted to 80,000 yuan a year from 60,000 yuan. The interim measures will be effective from January 1, 2019.
    • Employers Could Get 50% Refund on Unemployment Insurance Premiums for No or Less Job Cuts

      The State Council released on December 5, 2018 the Opinions about the Work on Promoting Employment at the Current and Next Stages, saying that companies that do not cut jobs or cut fewer jobs than initially planned can get back 50% of unemployment insurance premiums in the previous year. The document outlines four measures to promote employment in the current and next stages. The first is to support steady business development; the second is to encourage employment and entrepreneurship; the third is to implement job training programs; the fourth is to provide assistance to jobless and laid-off people. The document stressed that local governments must fulfill their responsibilities to promote employment, and relevant departments should release policy measures that support job creation and stabilization, and instruct enterprises to assume their social responsibilities and make concerted efforts.
    • SAMR Launches New Business Licenses

      The State Administration for Market Regulation recently issued the Circular about the Launch of New Business Licenses. The SAMR decided to redesign a new edition of business licenses and adopt the new licenses. There are six prominent changes. The business license's layout is optimized with an original and duplicate copy; QR code is printed on the license; eight formats of license remain unchanged; printing management is enhanced; the use of ethnic languages in the license is standardized. Starting from March 1, 2019, new business licenses will be issued to newly registered business establishments, or existing market entities that have changed registrations or applied to obtain new business licenses.
    • SAT Clarifies Matters Related to Issuance of Certificate of Tax Payment

      According to the Administrative Measures for Tax Vouchers, the State Administration of Taxation decided to adjust the arrangement on the issuance of the Certificate of Tax Payment starting from January 1, 2019. Starting from January 1, 2019, the certificate will no longer be a means of management on tax vouchers, and will be affixed with "business seal" instead of "tax collection seal". If an individual taxpayer applies to get a certificate for income tax payment (rebate) after January 1, 2019, the tax agency shall issue the Record of Tax Payment and no longer provide the Certificate of Tax Payment.
  • Hong Kong
    • Bill on tax deductions for annuity premiums and MPF voluntary contributions gazetted

      The Inland Revenue and MPF Schemes Legislation (Tax Deductions for Annuity Premiums and MPF Voluntary Contributions) (Amendment) Bill 2018 was gazetted by the government on 7 December 2018. The Bill seeks to implement the 2018-19 Budget initiative of introducing tax deductions for deferred annuity premiums and Mandatory Provident Fund Tax Deductible Voluntary Contributions (MPF TVCs) to encourage voluntary savings for retirement. The maximum tax-deductible limit on contributions to MPF TVCs and deferred annuity premiums for each taxpayer will be HKD 60,000 per year. A joint assessment for couples will be allowed to claim a total deduction of HKD 120,000, provided that the deductions claimed by each taxpayer do not exceed the individual limit of HKD 60,000. The Bill will be introduced into the Legislative Council on 12 December 2018.
    • Tax agreement between Finland and Hong Kong – details

      Details of the Finland - Hong Kong Income Tax Agreement (2018) and protocol, signed on 24 May 2018, have become available. The agreement was concluded in the English language. The agreement generally applies from 1 January 2019 for Finland and from 1 April 2019 for Hong Kong. From this date, the new agreement generally replaces the Finland - Hong Kong Transport Tax Agreement (2007). The agreement generally follows the OECD Model (2017). The maximum rates of withholding tax are:
      • 10% on dividends in general and 5% if the beneficial owner is a company (other than a partnership) controlling directly at least 10% of the voting power of the company paying the dividends;
      • 0% on interest; and
      • 3% on royalties.
      Deviations from the OECD Model include that:
      • the tie-breaker rule for individuals states that if an individual has:
        • an habitual abode in both contracting parties or in neither of them, he is deemed to be a resident only of the party in which he has the right of abode (in the case of Hong Kong) or of which he is a national (in the case of Finland) (article 2(2)(c));
        • the right of abode in Hong Kong and is also a national of Finland, or if he does not have the right of abode in Hong Kong nor is he a national of Finland, the competent authorities of the contracting parties will determine by mutual agreement in which party the person is deemed to be a resident for the agreement purposes (article 2(2)(d)).
      • where a person, other than an individual, is a resident of both contracting parties, the competent authorities of the contracting parties will determine by mutual agreement in which party the person is deemed to be a resident for the agreement purposes (article 3(3));
      • the term "permanent establishment" (PE) also encompasses:
        • a building site, a construction, assembly or installation project or supervisory activities in connection therewith, if such site, project or activities last more than 9 months; and
        • the furnishing of services, including consultancy services, by an enterprise directly or through employees or other personnel engaged by the enterprise for such purpose, if activities of that nature continue (for the same or a connected project) for a period or periods aggregating more than 270 days within any 12-month period (article 5(3)).
      • the definition of royalties includes payments for the use or right to use film or tapes for radio or television broadcasting (article 12(3));
      • royalties are deemed to arise in a contracting party when the payer is a resident of that party. Where, however, the person paying the royalties, whether he is a resident of a contracting party or not, has in a contracting party a PE in connection with which the liability to pay the royalties was incurred, and such royalties are borne by such PE, then such royalties are deemed to arise in the PE party (article 12(5));
      • the agreement includes an article on entitlement to agreement benefits (article 21); and
      • neither contracting party may terminate the agreement before 5 years has passed from the date the agreement has entered into force (article 29).
      Both parties generally provide for the credit method to avoid double taxation. Finland also provides for the exemption-with-progression method to avoid double taxation.
  • South Africa
    • Orange and MTN launch pan-African mobile money interoperability to scale up mobile financial services across Africa

      Two of Africa’s largest mobile operators and mobile money providers, Orange Group and MTN Group, today announced a joint venture, Mowali (mobile wallet interoperability), to enable interoperable payments across the continent. Mowali makes it possible to send money between mobile money accounts issued by any mobile money provider, in real time and at low cost. Mowali will immediately benefit from the reach of MTN Mobile Money and Orange Money, bringing together over 100 million mobile money accounts and mobile money operations in 22 of sub-Saharan Africa’s 46 markets. Mowali is ready to enable interoperability between digital financial service providers beyond MTN and Orange operations and markets, to support the existing 338 million mobile money accounts in Africa. Mowali is a digital payment infrastructure that connects financial service providers and customers in one inclusive network. It functions as an industry utility, open to any mobile money provider in Africa, including banks, money transfer operators and other financial service providers. The objective of Mowali is to increase the usage of mobile money by consumers and merchants.  Mowali enables money to circulate freely between mobile money accounts from any operators in all countries. From the customer's point of view, this means "I can pay or receive money anywhere from my mobile account regardless of my operator”. The system will unlock further innovation in the digital financial space within the continent. For Stéphane Richard, Chairman & CEO of Orange, "by providing full interoperability between platforms, Mowali will provide an important step forward that will allow mobile money to become a universal means of payment in Africa. Increasing financial inclusion through the use of digital technology is an essential element in furthering the economic development of Africa, particularly for more isolated communities. This solution embodies Orange's ambition to be a leading player in the digital transformation of the continent. By joining forces with another of Africa’s market leaders, MTN, we aim to accelerate the pace of this transformation in a way that will change the lives of our customers by providing them with simpler, safer and more advantageous services. “ “One of MTN’s goals is to accelerate the penetration of mobile financial service in Africa, Mowali is one such vehicle that will help us achieve that objective. Furthermore, co-operation and partnerships that help us accelerate the pace of development and overcome some of the scale, scope and complexity of challenges that society faces are key. This partnership with Orange is therefore an important step in helping us play a meaningful role in supporting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals related to eliminating extreme poverty and enhancing socio-economic development in the markets we operate in and beyond. Thus giving our customers access to a bright, digital future.” said Rob Shuter, Group President and CEO of MTN. The GSMA supports the Mowali initiative as interoperability at this scale is a key accelerator for both financial inclusion and Mobile Money usability across Africa. “Today, there are over 690 million mobile money accounts around the world. Mobile money services have become an essential, life-changing tool across Africa, providing access to safe and secure financial services but also to energy, health, education and employment opportunities. The creation of Mowali will help to further transform mobile financial services throughout the African region. It demonstrates the mobile industry’s continued leadership and commitment to driving financial inclusion and economic empowerment through industry collaboration. The GSMA is proud to support its development,” said Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA. “Interoperability of digital payments has been the toughest hurdle for the financial services industry to overcome, in support of financial inclusion. With Mowali, Orange and MTN deliver a solution that will enable them, and other companies, to scale digital financial services across Africa, faster, to everyone—including the poor,” said Kosta Peric, deputy director of Financial Services for the Poor, at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation “This is a signal that a new wave of innovation, which can help alleviate poverty and drive economic opportunity, is coming. We’re pleased to see an implementation of Mojaloop1 —an open source payment platform available to operators across the sector—help achieve that.”
    • South Africa to invest $1 billion in South Sudan’s oil sector

      JUBA (Reuters) - South Africa will invest $1 billion in South Sudan’s oil sector, including in the construction of a refinery, the South African minister for energy and his South Sudanese counterpart for petroleum said on Friday. South Sudan’s oil industry is dominated by Asian firms including China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), Malaysia’s Petronas and India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC Videsh). The two ministers signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) which will also involve South Africa taking part in the exploration of several oil blocks, they said. “When this refinery is complete, it will have the capacity of producing 60,000 barrels of oil per day,” Jeff Radebe, the South African minister said without giving further details. A source close to the South Sudanese government however told Reuters that “there is no commitment to build a refinery” beyond the MoU calling for collaboration between the two countries to study the possibility of building it. “What we have signed this morning is the cooperation between our two national oil companies, Nilepet and South Africa Energy Fund then from there the funding will come from Central Energy Fund (CEF) of South Africa,” Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, the South Sudanese minister said. The CEF is a holding company whose main asset is South Africa’s national oil and gas agency, PetroSA. Officials from the fund and the South African energy ministry were not immediately available for further comment. Gatkuoth said the deal also offered avenues for cooperation in the construction of a pipeline to serve fields located in the south of the country. South Sudan exports its crude through a pipeline that goes to a port in neighbouring Sudan to the north. “It is instrumental to have a new pipeline,” Gatkuoth said, without giving details on the timeline or potential cost. South Sudan is producing 135,000 barrels per day (bpd) from 130,000 bpd in August, Gatkuoth said this week. The government wants to push production back up to 350,000 bpd, the level achieved in 2011 when the country secured independence from Sudan and before it slid into civil conflict. A peace deal, between President Salva Kiir and rebels led by his former deputy Riek Machar, was signed in September.
    • Internet Solutions to open Africa’s largest pre-fabricated data centre in South Africa

      Internet Solutions (IS) gave IT News Africa a preview of what IS believes will be regarded as one of the most sustainable and energy-efficient pre-fabricated data centres in Africa. Located in Rosebank, Johannesburg, South Africa the Parklands Data Centre is a R500 million investment by IS, which owns and operates a network of 17 data centres across South Africa, spanning 12,000 square metres, and is due to officially begin operating in January 2019. Close to completion, the 1,600 square metre facility will provide 572 racks and 2.2 megawatts of IT power. The facility is intelligently built for flexibility, optimal automation and minimal resource consumption. Matthew Ashe, Executive Head: Data Centres at IS described the new data centre as a world-class facility, providing a high efficiency, highly resilient and exceptionally secure environment. Apart from boasting an ideal location for low latency application requirements within the economic hub of Africa, and carrier neutrality, resource and energy efficiency has taken centre stage in its design. As the move to cloud-based solutions becomes more prevalent, the demand for carrier-agnostic, secure data centres on the African continent has increased. “People and businesses are producing and consuming vast quantities of data and the security of that information has never been more important. The Parklands Data Centre allows data to be collected, stored and processed locally from a purpose-built modern facility that will help run our services faster and more efficiently. Further to this, with the growing demand for applications to be processed closer to the “edge”, having DC facilities which are as close to the edge of where processing is required to take place, is tremendously advantageous. This is an increasing requirement for a growing number of applications in IOT and Fintech,” said Ashe. “Reducing energy and resource consumption in South Africa is a national imperative. South Africa’s already struggling infrastructure and slowing progress on alternative energy sources means that the responsibility for ensuring energy efficiencies in data centres rests with data centre providers. With evolving technology, creating sustainable energy solutions is a much more realistic goal than ever before and we’re pleased to have deployed a number of these technologies across our DC’s to achieve such efficiencies.” Data centres are power-hungry installations that require always-on supplies of energy – as much as 2% of the world’s energy. Experts predict the amount of energy consumed by the world’s data centres – the repositories for billions of gigabytes of information – will treble in the next decade, putting an enormous strain on energy supplies and dealing a hefty blow to global warming. The Parklands Data Centre has implemented an infrastructure-on-demand model when it comes to increasing energy efficiencies; including dynamic power and cooling systems. This agile approach means infrastructure is switched on and ramped-up depending on what is required at any point in time – a significant move away from the conventional method of running infrastructure at full tilt, even with minimal occupancy. “IS remains committed to reducing energy consumption across our data centres, and we won’t stop looking at new ways to advance. The benefits are threefold – we keep our costs down, we dramatically reduce our impact on our environment, and ultimately, pass the savings on to our customers,” concludes Ashe.
    • Dubai-based firm Al Nakhil to invest in Zanzibar tourism

      Property developer Al Nakhil is looming at seizing investment opportunities available in Zanzibar, as both countries look to cement their bonds. Zanzibar President Dr Ali Mohamed Shein has assured the Emirati investors of support, peace and security on investments in the tourism sector, the country’s arguably economic mainstay. The Head of State met with the company’s construction company chairman Sheikh Ali Rashid Ahmed Lootah at the State House to hold business talks. Dr Shein noted, “Zanzibar has many investment opportunities in the tourism industry which are yet to be exploited, so investors are welcomed to utilise the opportunities available.” He affirmed the government’s stance in building the sector as it plays a crucial role in contributing to economic welfare. The tourism industry contributes more than 80 per cent of Zanzibar’s foreign exchange earnings and 27 per cent of the island’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), proving to be a pivotal pillar in the nation. Zanzibar has a tourism target of attracting 500,000 tourists in 2020 with the larger percentage coming from the Far East countries. Indonesia, Philippines, China and India are the target market with the massive potential to promote the country’s sector. Tapping into these markets will increase tourism earnings which stood at $350 million in 2017. Al Nakhil company is one of the largest construction firms in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) established in 2001. The company has undertaken master developments projects including Palm Jumeirah, The World, Deira Islands, Jumeirah Islands, Jumeirah Village, Jumeirah Park, Jumeirah Heights, The Gardens, Discovery Gardens, Al Furjan, Warsan Village, Dragon City, International City, Jebel Ali Gardens and Nad Al Sheba. The business’ impact in Zanzibar is significant and equally important to attract tourists and investors. Improved infrastructure is a business bait as it minimises operation cost, open the business to untapped markets and facilitate trade. The efficient flow of goods and people boosts smooth operation of businesses and leads to a better return on investments. Sheikh Ali Rashid Lootah applauded Zanzibar for its efforts in creating a conducive business environment similar to its mainland, Tanzania. The strategies to boost tourism sector have attracted Dubai investors to eye business opportunities in the industry. He added that his company is eager to work with the government to achieve the tourism goals. Zanzibar Islands competes with other Indian Ocean islands such as Seychelles, Reunion, and Mauritius. Zanzibar has at least 6,200 tourist hotel beds in 6 classes of accommodation. Nakheel announced a net profit of $1.05 billion for the first nine months of 2018, down from $1.08 billion in the same period last year, the Arabian Business recorded. Previously, the construction developer unveiled the UAE’s first floating swimming pool, 50 metres offshore in the waters of the Palm Jumeirah in the Arabian Gulf. Middle East Investment continue to increase in Tanzania and across East Africa, as the region is reckoned to be a preferred investment hub in Africa.
    • Rwanda’s Akagera Motors in deal with Mercedes Benz

      Akagera Business Group (ABG) has landed a partnership deal with renowned vehicle manufacturer Mercedes Benz, as the German investors continue to flex their muscles in the Rwandan market. The local car industry in Rwanda is gaining pace and has interested in various foreign companies to invest in the industry. Akagera Motors which is also the exclusive distributor for Toyota (Japan), HINO (Japan), Mahindra & Mahindra (India) and Ashok Leyland (India), Fuso(Japan), Nissan (Japan), and Foton (China), will become the exclusive Mercedes Benz sales and service dealer in Rwanda. The partnership will enable the car dealer located in Kigali to deliver among the latest model of the global automobile marque. The launch of the deal commemorated over the weekend saw Mercedes Benz unveil the new Mercedes-Benz Actros, fitted with the latest technology to conquer the African terrain. Among the changes made for the commercial heavy duty truck include fuel efficiency, reliability and robustness. Commenting on the Mercedes – Akagera partnership during the event that premiered as well passenger vehicle models, the Managing Director of AKAGERA BUSINESS GROUP (ABG), Vinay Gorajia noted that, “ABG is committed to becoming your trusted business partner in transport and logistics needs. Not only from the aspect of selling your products but the long-term relationship of servicing the products for you so that all the cost of ownership is as low as possible, which will translate into a very good financial position for your company.” “Asset management is one of the key factors that many companies struggle with because of the cost of ownership from maintenance and fuel consumption point of view. This is a key element we are going to be focusing on in 2019 with the most recent upgrades and how we can assist you.” In November last year, Akagera Motors unveiled new heavy duty FUSO models including Fuso Canter, Fuso FI 1217, Fuso FJ 1823 R and Fuso FJ 2528 C and FJ 2528 R. There is an increasing demand for heavy commercial vehicles in the Rwandan market that has opened investment opportunities for foreign firms to establish business ties with the local industry to tap into the potential available. Commenting on the introduction of the new Actros and new partnership, Torsten Bauerheim, Head of Sales and Customer Service at Mercedes-Benz Trucks said, “All together we deliver you the best to the cost of ownership. You prove every day that business and our trucks are successful together. All this would not be possible without great cooperation with AKAGERA MOTORS our valued distributor for Rwanda. We are proud of our relationship with ABG as a strong network is the basis of our business. We move to enter into a new dimension.” German investors continue to establish their presence in Rwanda with the ease of doing business in the country luring companies. Volkswagen, another German automaker established an assembling plant in Rwanda, rolling out its first ‘Made-in-Rwanda’ Polo car in July this year. The investor stiffens competitions with both Japanese and Chinese vehicle manufacturers which have found favour with many buyers due to their affordable prices and availability for spare parts.
    • Dangote Cement Lifts Nigerian Stock Market by 0.34%

      Gains recorded by Dangote Cement and some other blue-chip equities pushed the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) to the green territory on Tuesday. The local stock market closed yesterday’s trading session 0.34 percent higher, leaving the year-to-date return at -19.68 percent. The growth posted by the market was mainly influenced by the 103.99 points garnered by the All-Share Index (ASI) to close at 30,718.72 points, and the N44 billion raked by the market capitalisation to finish at N11.221 trillion. Business Post reports that there was an improvement in the volume and value of transactions during the trading day as the volume of shares exchanged by investors increased by 30.86 percent from 164.6 million to 215.4 million, while the value appreciated by 103.96 percent from N1.7 billion to N3.4 billion.
      These trades were dominated by the Financial Services sector with 189.7 million shares exchanged for N2.2 billion, with the Oil and Gas sector following with a turnover of 8.4 million equities worth N149 million. Zenith Bank was the busiest stock at the local bourse yesterday, recording a total turnover of 58.3 million units of its stock sold for N1.4 billion. It was followed by Sterling Bank, which sold 35.1 million units worth N63.2 million, and FBN Holdings, which transacted 25.6 million units valued at N191.9 million. Diamond Bank traded 17.1 million equities for N16.8 million, while Fidelity Bank exchanged 11.2 million equities worth N21.3 million. On the price movement chart, Dangote Cement topped the gainers’ table with a gain of N1.30k to settle at N185.50k per share. Flour Mills rose by N1 to finish at N21 per share, while Forte Oil appreciated by 85 kobo to close at N20 per share. UAC of Nigeria increased by 60 kobo to end at N9.90k per share, while Cadbury Nigeria improved by 50 kobo to quote at N9.95k per share. On the flip side, CCNN emerged as the worst performing stock on Tuesday after losing 50 kobo of its share price to close at N16 per share. GTBank went down by 35 kobo to settle at N34.40k per share, while C&I Leasing declined by 19 kobo to finish at N1.75k per share. NAHCO suffered a 10 kobo loss at yesterday’s trading session to end at N3.35k per share, while NEM Insurance also depreciated by 10 kobo to close at N2.25k per share.  
    • €10 million fund to support horticultural, coffee value chains to be launched today

      The European Union has launched a call for proposals to be funded through a €10 million fund to unlock the potential of Rwanda’s horticultural and coffee value chains to ensure the supply of safe products to local, regional and international markets. According to a statement by the European Union Delegation, the initiative will be launched today by the Director General of the National Agriculture Export Board (NAEB) Bill Kayonga, and the Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Rwanda, Amb. Nicola Bellomo in Karenge Sector of Rwamagana district. The overall amount made available under this call for proposals is €7.68 million of which €4.68 million is for horticultural high-value chains, SME- and agribusiness development while €3 million is for enhancing coffee value chain development. This could boost government efforts to increase coffee production and exports which is expected to grow to 24,500 tonnes of coffee in 2018, from the 23,000 tonnes of last year. Coffee is grown on 37,000 hectares by 355,000 small-scale farmers and it makes up 48 per cent of Rwanda’s agricultural exports according to figures Another €2.3 million is being invested in building the laboratory capacities of the National Agriculture Export Board (NAEB) for compliance with regional and international markets standards. “The support is in the context of the EU’s overall support to Rwanda’s agriculture sector through a financing agreement of 204 million Euros,” the EU statement noted. This, the statement says, is in accordance with the newly adopted strategy for the transformation of Agriculture (PSTA 4) whereby European Union supports to intensify the production of agriculture and increase employment opportunities in  Rwanda rural areas in particular for youth and women. It will help increase the quality and quantity of production and ultimately increase value addition per hectares with a specific attention to poverty reduction and increase of incomes for smallholder farmers. The call is also putting a lot of attention on the questions of traceability, standards, certification, in order to comply with regional and international market requirements. As a complementary measure, the programme is co-financed by the EU-EAC Markup Programme that will bring complementarity through regional approaches to facilitate trade and improve access to international markets.
    • US commits $220 million for energy sector in EAC

      The energy sector in EAC is an exciting investment opportunity for American companies

      The United States of America is slowly regaining its position in Africa with more foreign direct investments in the region as it commits to pump $220 million to improve the energy sector in the East African Community (EAC). East Africa remains the most preferred investment region in the African continent with the vast array of business opportunities and conducive business climate presented by the governments. In spite of the growing interest of foreign companies to venture in the manufacturing and infrastructure sectors highlighted as priority areas of investment by East African governments to catapult their economic development goals, the US sees it as vital to invest in the energy sector, which is showing promising and exciting potential for better benefits in the future. Commenting on the US aid, EAC Secretary General Dr Libérat Mfumukeko said, “The US support to the region is a crucial one especially when the EAC is undertaking some major projects in realising the integration agenda.” His comments reiterated the words of EAC Deputy Secretary General, (Productive and Social Sectors), Mr Christophe Bazivamo who in 2017 informing the second executive board meeting of the East African Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (EACREEE) in Kampala, Uganda stated that as the EAC integration was business oriented, energy was key to promoting trade in the region. “Low energy access rates, expensive electricity and poor cooking solutions have been hampering the region’s development,” Mr Bazivamo was quoted. The US is a force to be reckoned with as it is a strong partner of supporting various projects in the regional bloc, according to Mr Mfumeko. The EAC – US Investment Partnership relations has mutually benefitted both parties to elevate their businesses, find new markets for their businesses and open up new avenues for trade. Chinese investments in EAC have shaken the dominance of American investors, but the region is tipped to be a ‘battleground’ for the US-China rivalry in 2019. According to a publication by The Exchange, US businesses continue to expand their reach by investing in various sectors including health, agriculture, oil and gas as well as other forms of energy. Speaking in Washington President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, said: “Under our new approach, every decision we make, every policy we pursue, and every dollar of aid we spend will further U.S. priorities in the (Africa) region.” Given the importance of energy in fulfilling EAC’s vision, the region will hold its 9th East African Petroleum Conference & Exhibition 2019. Under the theme “East African Region: The Destination of Choice for Oil and Gas Investment Opportunities to Enhance Socioeconomic Transformation,” the Community will discuss the legal and policy framework and the overall business environment prevailing in the region. Last month, EAC launched an energy security policy framework, developed in partnership with the UN Economic Commission for Africa in an attempt to reduce electricity cost and ensure reliable supply.
    • UK gives £100m of funding for renewable energy projects in Africa

      The UK has pledged £100m extra funding to renewable energy projects in Africa giving hundreds of thousands access to electricity, the government has announced.
      This triples the funds for the Renewable Energy Performance Platform (REPP) and will support up to 40 more renewable projects over the next five years in Sub-Saharan Africa, the government said in a statement. The funding could also unlock an extra £156m of private finance into renewable energymarkets in Africa, the statement suggested. Energy and clean growth minister Claire Perry said: “At home we’re world leaders in cutting emissions while growing our economy and abroad we’re showing our international leadership by giving countries a helping hand to shift to greener, cleaner economies. “This £100m will help communities harness the power of their natural resources to provide hundreds of thousands of people with electricity for the first time. “Building these clean, reliable sources of energy will also create thousands of quality jobs in these growing green economies.” The new funding is in addition to £48m previously committed to the REPP. It will support projects that include solar, wind, biomass, hydro and geothermal technologies, and is expected to create 8,000 jobs during development and operation. The commitment is part of the UK’s promise to invest £5.8bn in international climate finance by 2020.
    • Thailand’s PTTEP to expand gas investment in Africa

      BANGKOK -- Thai oil driller PTT Exploration & Production said Tuesday it will disburse $1.84 billion in capital expenditures next year, partly to finance new developments in Africa. The amount marks a 4% increase from this year's capital spending, with $1.16 billion going to existing gas fields at home and in Myanmar, and $490 million to fresh projects in Mozambique, Algeria and Vietnam. In Mozambique, PTTEP holds a partial interest in the Rovuma Offshore Area 1 natural gas field, which is expected to offset dwindling gas deposits in the Gulf of Thailand. Exploration in Algeria has also hit upon confirmed gas and petroleum deposits, and the project is moving toward commercial production. The subsidiary of state-owned energy conglomerate PTT also plans $9.31 billion in total capital spending for the five years through 2023, a 4% upgrade from the five-year plan through 2022 announced in February. This is the first time in three years that a plan for a five year period has surpassed $9 billion. PTTEP had kept investments below that threshold due to the oil slump that began in the latter half of 2014. The company is adopting a "more active strategy" that will "maximize the value of existing [exploration and production] assets by applying new technology to enhance operational efficiency," CEO Phongsthorn Thavisin said in a statement. The Thai government last week awarded PTTEP the right operate the Erawan gas field in the Gulf of Thailand, starting in 2022. The company won out over a competing bid from a consortium formed by Chevron of the U.S. and Japan's Mitsui Oil Exploration. This addition to PTTEP's portfolio will likely require additional capital expenditures over five years.
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
    • Guidance issued on previously taxed earnings and profits

      On 14 December 2018, the US Treasury Department and the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Notice 2019-01 to announce their intention to release regulations addressing certain issues arising from the enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) with respect to foreign corporations with previously taxed earnings and profits (PTEP). Notice 2019-01 describes regulations that the Treasury Department and the IRS intend to issue, including:
      • rules relating to the maintenance of PTEP in annual accounts and within certain groups;
      • rules relating to the ordering of PTEP upon distribution and reclassification; and
      • rules relating to the adjustment required when an income inclusion exceeds the earnings and profits of a foreign corporation.
      It is expected that the regulations will apply to taxable years of US shareholders ending after 14 December 2018 (i.e. the date of release of Notice 2019-01) and to taxable years of foreign corporations ending with or within such taxable years. Notice 2019-01 will appear in the IRS Internal Revenue Bulletin (IRB) as part of 2019-03, dated 14 January 2019.
    • Proposed regulations on base erosion and anti-abuse tax (BEAT)

      On 13 December 2018, the US Treasury Department and the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released proposed regulations (REG-104259-18) on the base erosion and anti-abuse tax (BEAT) under the new section 59A of the US Internal Revenue Code (IRC). The IRS issued a related News Release (IR-2018-250) dated 13 December 2018. IRC section 59A, enacted by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), imposes a tax equal to the base erosion minimum tax amount (BEMTA) for certain taxpayers beginning in tax year 2018. When applicable, this tax is in addition to the taxpayer's regular tax liability. The new provision primarily affects corporate taxpayers with gross receipts averaging more than USD 500 million over a 3-year period that make deductible payments to foreign related parties. The proposed regulations provide guidance on the following:
      • which taxpayers are subject to IRC section 59A;
      • the determination of what is a base erosion payment;
      • the method for calculating the BEMTA; and
      • the required BEAT resulting from that calculation.
  • Tax Treaties
    • Tax Treaties

      A tax treaty is a bilateral agreement made by two countries to resolve issues involving double taxation of passive and active income. Treaties Update – December 2018
      Date Country A Country B Object Status
      02.12.18 Argentina China Income and Capital Tax Treaty Signed
      05.12.18 St. Vincent and the Grenadines United Arab Emirates Income and Capital Tax Treaty Signed
      10.12.18 Niger United Arab Emirates Income Tax Treaty Signed
      11.12.18 Austria United Kingdom Income Tax Treaty Approved by Austrian National Council