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China: Prior Approval No Longer Needed for Certain Forms of Tax Benefits

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(Aug 28, 2015) On August 18, 2015, China's State Administration of Taxation (SAT) issued an announcement to publicize 22 tax-related matters, listed in an appendix, for which prior SAT approval is no longer required. (Ying Zhang, China (People's Rep.): Prior Approval for 22 Tax-Related Items Abolished, TAX NEWS SERVICE (Aug. 24, 2015), International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation online subscription database; Announcement on Making Public 22 Already Cancelled Tax Items for Which There Is No Examination and Approval for Administrative Permission [Announcement], SAT Announcement No. 58 of 2015, State Administration of Taxation website (Aug. 18, 2015) (in Chinese) [list is appended to document; click on hyperlink to access].)

The announcement was issued on the basis of article 33 of the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Administration of Tax Collection and the Decision of the State Council on Cancelling and Adjusting a Batch of Items for Administrative Examination and Approval and Other Matters (State Council Issuance 2014 No. 50 (Announcement).) The Announcement states that the tax authorities at every level should comprehensively carry out the work related to cancellation of the 22 tax matters not requiring examination and approval for administrative permission and that those authorities must not retain or disguise examination and approval in any form. Moreover, it adds, they should, in a timely manner, revise the relevant provisions regarding the cancelled matters, verification forms, and the collection management process and should clarify ex post facto regulatory requirements. (Id.)

Some of the items for which prior approval is no longer needed are:

- tax incentives for development of western regions;
- tax incentives on income from technology transfers made by a resident enterprise;
- tax incentives for venture capital investment enterprises;
- tax incentives enjoyed by enterprises for comprehensive utilization of resources;
- tax incentives enjoyed by enterprises for the transformation of cultural institution units in reform of the cultural system;
- tax incentives enjoyed by enterprises for use of disabled persons in production and assembly in specialized supply businesses;
- tax incentives for application of the simplified collection method and tax sparing credit method for an enterprise's foreign income;
- tax exemption on income derived by non-profit organizations;
- tax incentives on income enjoyed by companies that invested in the purchase of specialized equipment for environmental protection, energy and water conservation, and safe production;
- tax incentives on income enjoyed by software and integrated circuit enterprises;
- tax incentives on income enjoyed by animation industry enterprises;
- stamp duty exemption on state-owned equity transactions carried out by a listed company ; and
- stamp duty exemption on equity transfers of listed companies by four financial asset management companies. (Id.; Zhang, supra.)

Author: Wendy Zeldin More by this author
Topic: Tax administration and collection More on this topic
 Taxation More on this topic
Jurisdiction: China More about this jurisdiction

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Scotland: GM Crops Ban

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(Aug 27, 2015) Public opinion in the United Kingdom in the past has been strongly against the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and genetically modified (GM) crops. (Adam Vaughn, Public Concern over GM Food Has Lessened, Survey Shows, GUARDIAN (Mar. 9, 2012); Martin Robbins, Hulk Smash GM Crops, GUARDIAN (May 30, 2012) (accessed via Lexis online subscription database.) Scotland has recently announced that it intends to ban GMO crops within its borders by taking advantage of an amendment to the European Union Directive 2001/18/EC that came into force earlier in 2015, which permits Member States, including devolved administrations, to restrict or completely ban the growth of GM crops within their territory. (Press Release, Scottish Government, GM Crop Ban (Aug. 8, 2015); Directive 2001/18/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 12 March 2001 on the Deliberate Release into the Environment of Genetically Modified Organisms and Repealing Council Directive 90/220/EEC, 2001 OJ (L 106) 1, EUR-LEX.)

The United Kingdom is generally viewed as having a restrictive approach towards genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and crops. Genetically modified (GM) crops are currently not grown commercially in the UK, but they are imported. These crops are primarily used in animal feed and a few food products. There is no general prohibition on the planting of GM crops, but planting them is only permitted "if a robust risk assessment indicates that it is safe for people and the environment." (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs & National Payments Agency, 2010 to 2015 Government Policy: Food and Farming Industry, GOV.UK (updated May 8, 2015); see also Clare Feikert, Restrictions on Genetically Modified Organisms: England and Wales, LAW LIBRARY OF CONGRESS (Mar. 2014).)

The reaction to the ban among Scottish farmers has been mixed, with some protesting that it will leave them at a disadvantage when compared to farmers in England, where it appears that GM crops of maize and oil seed rape will continue to be utilized for animal feed and to produce energy. (Tom Peterkin, Farmers Alarmed at SNP Pledge to Ban GM Crops, SCOTSMAN (Aug. 9, 2015).) Scotland's Rural Affairs Secretary has stated that the purpose of the ban is to preserve and enhance Scotland's reputation for its "beautiful natural environment" and that it will serve to protect the nation's "clean green status." (GM Crop Ban, supra.)

Author: Clare Feikert-Ahalt More by this author
Topic: Agriculture and food More on this topic
 Genetically modified foods More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Scotland More about this jurisdiction

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Angola: New Private Investment Law

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(Aug 27, 2015) On August 11, 2015, Angola published in its Official Gazette a new private investment law, which was approved by Law No. 14 of August 11, 2015 (Lei do Investimento Privado, Lei No. 14/15, de 11 de Agosto, IMPRENSA NACIONAL (from the drop down window, click on Diário da República Ia. Série No. 115.) The new law revoked Law No. 20 of May 11, 2011, which had formerly regulated private investment in the country. The purpose of the new law is to make the procedure for the admission of foreign investment into the country less bureaucratic and to better adapt investment incentives and tax and customs benefits to the current economic dynamics of the country, making them more attractive to investors. (Ines Barbosa Cunha, New Private Investment Law Enacted, TAX NEWS SERVICE (Aug. 19, 2015), International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation online subscription database.)

The changes established by the new law include, but are not limited to, the use of qualifying criteria to be met by the prospective investor in order to benefit from tax and customs incentives. The equivalent of US$1 million is required for foreign investments and $500,000 for domestic investments. (Id.) The responsibility for the approval of private investments now belongs to the executive branch of the government, rather than the National Agency for Private Investment (Agência Nacional de Investimento Privado). (Id.) Foreign investment in certain sectors, such as electricity and water, hotels and tourism, transportation and logistics, construction, telecommunications, and information and information technology, require a partnership with Angolan citizens or companies (public or private), who must own at least 35% of the enterprise and participate in its management. (Id.)

Author: Eduardo Soares More by this author
Topic: Business investment and capital More on this topic
 Foreign investments More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Angola More about this jurisdiction

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England and Wales: School Girl Pleads Guilty to Terror Charges

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(Aug 27, 2015) A 16-year-old school girl pled guilty to two counts of terrorism offenses in a youth court in England, after a counter-terrorism unit conducted an investigation that resulted in the discovery on the girl's cellphone of instructions on how to build a bomb, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) propaganda, and images of executions and of a dead child. (Manchester Girl, 16, Pleads Guilty to Terror Charges, BBC NEWS (Aug. 26, 2015).) During the investigation, the counter-terrorism unit discovered that the girl had done a number of searches on computers within her school to locate information on key ISIS figures and other terrorists. The investigation also led to the arrest of a 14-year-old boy in Australia who admitted that he was involved in an unrelated plot to stage an attack during Australia's Anzac Day Parade. (Id.)

The girl, who due to her age cannot be named, was charged with two counts of possessing a document or record that contains information that would be likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing for an act of terrorism, as defined under section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (Id.; Terrorism Act 2000, c. 8, LEGISLATION.GOV.UK.) She has been released on bail with conditions adjusted so that she may continue to attend school. The girl must report to the police three days a week, is subject to a 9 p.m.-7 a.m. curfew, and is banned from obtaining travel documents and traveling outside England and Wales. A youth psychologist will evaluate her prior to her sentencing hearing in October. (Rose Troup Buchanan, Teenage Schoolgirl Pleads Guilty to Terror Charges After Police Find Dead Child Images and Isis Propaganda on Her Phone, INDEPENDENT (Aug. 26, 2015).)

Author: Clare Feikert-Ahalt More by this author
Topic: Juvenile crime More on this topic
 Terrorism More on this topic
Jurisdiction: England and Wales More about this jurisdiction

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China: Cybersecurity Provisions in Proposed or Recently Passed Laws

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(Aug 25, 2015) China's legislature is considering passage of a comprehensive cybersecurity law. The proposed law on counterterrorism and two other recently passed laws also contain notable cybersecurity provisions. Some of the key features of the provisions are outlined below. The telecommunications regulations governing telecommunications companies (including Internet service providers (ISPs)), which were amended in July 2014, remain unchanged. (Dianxin Tiaoli [Telecommunications Regulations] (promulgated Sept. 25, 2000, last amended on July 29, 2014), Ministry of Industry and Information Technology website.)

Draft Cybersecurity Law

In July 2015, a 68-article draft Cybersecurity Law was released for solicitation of public opinions and comments; the review period expired on August 5, 2015. (Draft Cybersecurity Law (published July 7, 2015), National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China (NPC) website (in Chinese).) The draft law sets forth a detailed plan on cyber monitoring and regulation. The draft requires all network operators to check the identity of users before giving them Internet access. (Draft Cybersecurity Law, art. 20.) Electronic information delivery service providers and application software downloading service providers must also report users who transmit information prohibited by laws and regulations. (Id. art. 41.)

The draft Cybersecurity Law postulates a government system for inspecting and recording Internet activities. (Id. art. 44.) It urges that, "as needed to protect national security and social and public order and responding to major social safety emergencies," the State Council, or local governments at the provincial level subject to the State Council's approval, can temporarily restrict Internet communication in an area. (Id. art. 50.)

Draft Counterterrorism Law

Article 15 of the draft Counterterrorism Law requires network and information system operators doing business in China to install interfaces in their products and service plans allowing government monitoring and to submit their encryption scheme to the government for examination. (Draft Counterterrorism Law (published Nov. 3, 2014), art. 15, NPC website (in Chinese).) The draft also requires telecommunications operators and ISPs in China to keep their devices, equipment, and data in China if it is related to their Chinese business. (Id. art. 15.) Telecommunications operators and ISPs must use Internet security techniques and content-monitoring systems to prevent the transmission and distribution of terrorism-related information and report any such information and its users to the government. (Id. art. 16.)

National Security Law

The National Security Law that was passed on July 1, 2015, and became effective the same day states that the country will protect its national sovereignty in cyberspace and will establish a system to inspect and supervise the information technology products and services that affect or may have an effect on national security. (Guojia Anquan Fa [National Security Law] (promulgated by the NPC Standing Committee and effective on July 1, 2015), arts. 25 & 59, XINHUANET.)

Counterespionage Law

Under the Counterespionage Law enacted on November 1, 2014, national security departments are authorized to inspect and under certain circumstances seize an individual or organization's equipment and facilities, especially telecommunications devices such as cellphones, tablets, and laptops, to meet counterespionage needs. (Fan Jiandie Fa [Counterespionage Law] (promulgated by the NPC Standing Committee on Nov. 1, 2014), art. 13, NPC website.)

Prepared by Qiu Shi, Law Library Intern, under the supervision of Laney Zhang, Senior Foreign Law Specialist.

Author: Laney Zhang More by this author
Topic: Espionage More on this topic
 Internet More on this topic
 National security More on this topic
 Telecommunications More on this topic
 Terrorism More on this topic
Jurisdiction: China More about this jurisdiction

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