The Centre of Expertise on Trade,
Investment and Public Policy

  • Asia House
  • 63 New Cavendish Street
  • London W1G 7LP
  •  
  • enquiries@asiahouse.co.uk
  • +44 (0) 20 7307 5454
  • The Centre of Expertise on Trade,
    Investment and Public Policy

    The information below is collated by the Department for International Trade, UK Government.

     

     

     

     

     


     

    Asia Pacific government policies that will impact and support business during COVID-19

    The information below is a summary of government policies that have been put in place in Asia Pacific since the outbreak of COVID-19.

    These include those that affect the movement of people and goods, as well as initiatives that have been put in place to support business at this time.

    The information has been collated by the UK Department for International Trade in Asia Pacific.

    Please note, this is updated on a weekly basis, and was last published on 15 May 2020.

    More information can be found through the relevant links.

    Please email DIT.APAC@fco.gov.uk if your UK business in Asia Pacific needs specific support during the COVID-19 outbreak.

     

    Quick links

    SOUTHEAST ASIA

    NORTHEAST ASIA

    AUSTRALASIA

     


     

    SOUTHEAST ASIA

    Malaysia

    Impact

    Restrictions on people entering and leaving the country are as follows:

    • All Malaysians can enter the country, but they are not permitted to leave.
    • All foreign nationals can leave Malaysia, but only diplomats and those with Permanent Residency can enter.
    • Everyone entering Malaysia is subject to 14-day quarantine in Government facilities and will be charged at least £30 a day
    • Transit through Malaysia is permitted, provided travellers stay airside
    • All inter-state travel still requires police approval.

    For more information, please see the Malaysian Ministry of Home Affairs and FCO Travel Advice.

    Restrictions on the movement of goods and operations are as follows:

    • All Malaysian ports are now fully open and are handling essential and non-essential goods. Please see more information on the Malaysian Ministry of Transport website
    • On 4 May the Government eased internal restrictions under a Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO). Practically all businesses can operate (prohibited activities). All states are now following the CMCO rules, with minor variations.
    • The CMCO will be in place until 9 June. All businesses who plan to operate are required to register with MITI. Companies will receive an automatic endorsement letter and a QR code to display at their premises.

    Support

    On 5 June the Government announced a $8.2bn Economic Stimulus Plan.  This includes:

    • Wage subsidies extended for another 3 months (Max £200 per month per employee; Over 200,000 companies registered on the scheme);
    • Remission of penalties for late payments of sales & service tax;
    • Special tax deduction for rental discount provided to SME tenants;
    • Accelerated capital allowance for machinery and equipment;
    • Tax deductions on: PPE, thermal scanners, covid testing, renovation/refurbishment, implementation of flexible working arrangements;
    • Upskilling allowance for unemployed and youth (available through SOCSO);
    • RM 1bn support for small and medium tourism enterprises;
    • Tax deferments extended for airlines and tourism sector;
    • Grants and incentives to SMEs to encourage online use (focus on Bumiputera);
    • Tax exemptions for new FDI in Malaysia. Zero tax rate will apply for 10 years for investments of RM300-500m; 15 years for investments over RM500m. Applications need to be made before 31 Dec 2021.

    All measures are open to companies with Malaysian employees.

    Previously announced measures announced in March ($60bn):

     

    Myanmar

    Impact

    Restrictions on the movement of people:

    There are currently no flights into and out of Myanmar.

    Support

    The government released the Myanmar COVID-19 Economic Response Plan (CERP) on 27 April 2020 to mitigate the economic impact in Myanmar. This included:

    • The Central bank lowered banks’ deposit and lending rate ceilings by 3%
    • Government to provide working capital loans to MSMEs, especially those in CMP and hotel/tourism sectors at 1% interest rate per annum
    • Corporate income tax and commercial tax are deferred up to 30 September 2020
    • 2% withholding tax waived on exports
    • Specific Goods Tax and Customs Duties for critical medical supplies and products related to COVID-19 to be waived
    • Firms that have leased state-owned factories for manufacturing can get lease fees exempted for 3-6 months

     

    Indonesia

    Impact

    Restrictions on people entering and leaving the country are as follows, with full details of the travel restrictions for foreign visitors available in English on Twitter via DitJen Imigrasi (@ditjen_imigrasi).

    All foreign nationals are barred from entering and transiting through Indonesia due to COVID-19. There are 5 exceptions to the ban:

    • Foreign nationals with limited (KITAS) and permanent stay (KITAP) permits
    • Foreign nationals with diplomatic visa and working visa
    • Holders of diplomatic stay permits and business stay permits
    • Those working on medical and food assistance transportation
    • Foreign nationals working on national strategic projects

    Entry requirements apply to those who fall within the list of exceptions

    The regulations enforce large scale social distancing which includes limiting the movement of people and goods, and the restricting of religious practices and activities in public areas.

    Local agencies have been instructed to implement anti-epidemic activities while ensuring operation of import-export enterprises.

    Support

    Tax incentives and credit for business:

    • Income tax exemption for workers in manufacturing sector with incomes below Rp 200m per year
    • Import tax payments deferred for six months in 19 manufacturing sectors
    • Overpaid taxes to be repaid without initial audit
    • Corporate income tax reduced from 25% to 22%
    • Debt payments delayed by six months for micro loans credit business affected by COVID-19.
    • An economic recovery programme: credit restructuring and financing for small and medium businesses.

    Please click here to see a comprehensive summary of jurisdictional tax measures and government reliefs in response to COVID-19.

    Import restrictions for goods under the 749 harmonised system code reduced. Import restrictions have also been simplified for raw materials as well as on animal, medicine and food imports. The import relaxation will apply until 30 June 2020.

    The Financial Services Authority (OJK) has relaxed the requirements for Indonesian banks to determine the asset quality of debtors that are affected by the COVID-19 outbreak either directly or indirectly in the economic sector including tourism, transportation, hospitality, trade, processing, agriculture, and mining. This includes:

    • One-year postponement of credit or leasing payments for loan up to Rp10 billion for MSMEs and informal workers.
    • Postponement of credit or leasing payments without ceiling limits in accordance with the debtors’ ability to pay the credit and the agreement with banks or leasing companies. (applicable for SME and non-SME)
    • This relaxation is applicable for up to 31 March 2021.

    Companies forced to limit their business activities due to government policies may change the amount or method of payment of the employees’ salary, based on consensus reached between the employers and employees.

    In the event that rendering normal business activities becomes impossible, employers may opt to temporarily suspend the business in whole or in part. The employers still have to pay for employees’ salary and benefits in full during the suspension period, unless both parties agree otherwise.

    See more information here.

     

    Singapore

    Impact

    Restrictions on the movement of people are as follows:

    • No short-term visitors allowed to transit or enter Singapore. Full details can be found here
    • On 15 March, the Singapore government advised to defer all non-essential travel abroad to the general public including businesses
    • As of 20 March, returning residents coming from all countries are automatically required to serve 14 day Stay-Home Notices (SHN) requiring them to stay at their place of residence
    • Employers are strongly urged to defer bringing in pass holders into Singapore and have issued a 2-month extension for those expiring on 21 March.  Those who are not able to defer are required to coordinate with the Ministry of Manpower (MoM) to accomplish the additional requirements for the processing of these applications
    • Additionally, Long Term Visit Pass Holders are required to seek the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) entry approval in addition to MoM’s Letter of Consent (LOC).

    Support

    Singapore COVID-19 Support Package was announced in three tranches – 18 Feb, 26 Mar and 6 Apr with the following being announced:

    • Job support scheme – Singapore will now cover 75% of the cost of retained workers (up to $4,600) for the month of April (up from a mix of 25-75% depending on the industry)
    • Support for non-local workers – To encourage companies to retain foreign workers, a rebate of $750 per worker will also be paid out
    • Bill passed on contractual obligations to allow businesses to defer rent payments, loan obligations for up to 6 months
    • Property tax rebate (about one month’s rent) be required by landlords to pass onto tenants
    • Better access to finance – Government’s risk share of loans for SMEs, trade finance and bridging finance increased from 80% to 90% for loans extended over the next year (until 31 March 2021)
    • Self-employed help – The scheme ($3k per quarter for next three quarters) will also apply for self-employed who get some income from employment work.

    The fourth budget, known as the Fortitude Budget, a supplementary budget of S$33 billion was announced on 26 May 20, aimed primarily at helping workers and businesses to tide over the Covid-19 crisis and the bleak economic outlook ahead.

    The key takeaways are:

    For workers  

    The Job Support Scheme (JSS) will be enhanced in three ways:

    • JSS will be extended for 1 more month to cover wages in August 2020
    • For firms that cannot resume operations immediately after the circuit breaker, the Government will continue to provide wage support at 75% until August 2020, or when they are allowed tore-open (whichever is earlier)
    • Increased support for some affected sectors (aerospace sector, retail, marine and offshore) – an increase from the previous 25% to either 50% or 75%.

    An SGUnited Jobs & Skills Package will create close to 100,000 opportunities in three areas – jobs, traineeships and skills training.

    • The aim is to create 40,000 jobs by end-2020, with 15,000 jobs in the public sector; 11,000 jobs in the private sector. The remaining 14,000 places will come from the expanded career conversion programmes, such as the Place-and-Train conversion programmes under the Adapt and Grow Initiative, and Company-Led Training programmes under the TechSkills Accelerator or TeSAinitiative.
    • The SGUnitedTraineeships programme will provide 21,000 traineeships for local first-time job seekers. Applications open from 1 June. A new SGUnited Mid-Career Traineeships scheme will be created to provide 4,000 traineeships for mid-career job seekers.
    • The SGUnitedSkills training courses will be available for about 30,000 jobseekers to upgrade their skills while looking for a job. A training allowance of $1,200 per month for a course duration (between 6 to 12 months) will cover basic expenses. This will be rolled out progressively from July.

    There will be hiring incentive for employers which hire local workers who have completed eligible traineeship and training programmes. This will be expanded to cover workers of all ages.

    For eligible workers under the age of 40, the incentive will be 20% of the monthly salary for 6 months, capped at $6,000 in total. For those 40 and above, the incentive will be 40% of the monthly salary for 6 months, capped at $12,000 in total.

    For businesses

    Supporting enterprises with cashflow, costs and credit

    Foreign Worker Levy and Waiver Rebate:

    This will be extended by up to 2 months for businesses that are not allowed to resume on-site operations after the circuit breaker. There will be a 100% waiver and $750 rebate in June 2020, and a 50% waiver and $375 rebate in July 2020.

    Higher CPF contribution rates will be deferred

    The increase in CPF contribution rates for senior workers will be deferred by 1 year, from 1 Jan 2021 to 1 Jan 2022.

    Cash grants to help SMEs with rental

    $2 billion in cash grants will help SME tenants with rental costs. Including the property tax rebate for 2020, the Government will:

    • Offset another 2 months’ rental for qualifying SME tenants of commercial properties;
    • Offset 1 months’ rental for qualifying SME tenants of industrial and office properties

    There will also be additional rental waivers for commercial and other non-residential tenants of Government properties – including stall holders of hawker centres and markets, tenants of commercial buildings and industrial, office and agricultural tenants.

    Financial support for promising startups

    This includes $4.5b of loans through Government financial schemes like the Temporary Bridging Loan programme and the Enterprise Financing Scheme, and $285m additional financing support for promising startups by co-investing with the private sector.

    There will also be support for businesses to go digital including:

    Encouraging e-payments

    A bonus of $300 per month over 5 months will encourage the adoption of e-payments by stallholders in hawker centres, wet markets, coffee shops and industrial canteens.

    Digital resilience bonus

    Starting with food services and retail sectors, a payout of up to $5,000 will help businesses digitalise, with PayNow Corporate, e-invoicing, business process or e-commerce solutions. There will be an additional payout of $5,000 for businesses that use advanced solutions.

    The Monetary Authority of Singapore announced two updates to help financial institutions (FI) and FinTechs:

    • $125m package for FIs and FinTechs to support training, digitalisation, and access to digital platforms
    • Adjustments to regulatory requirements and supervisory programmes so that FIs can focus on lending
    • The Infocomm Media Development and Enterprise Singapore announced further subsidies to support remote working solutions to help businesses to cope with COVID-19 challenges.

    The Monetary Authority of Singapore has also launched a new facility to lend SGD at an interest rate of 0.1% annum to eligible financial institutions and banks to lower the cost of their loans to SMEs.

    For more information, please visit GoBusiness Covid

     

    Thailand

    Impact

    All international passenger flights are now banned.

    A State of Emergency is in place until 31 May 2020. All shops are closed, with the exception of supermarkets.

    Inter-province travel is prohibited.

    Support

    Fiscal package worth approximately 400 billion baht, comprising:

    • Soft loans worth 150 billion baht
    • Debt payments extension
    • Tax benefits including reduction of withholding taxes, was unveiled on March 10 providing support.

    For full information see here.

     

    Vietnam

    Impact

    Restrictions on the movement of people are as follows:

    Support

    The government has released the following Covid-19 Support Packages:

    Other fiscal measures include:

    Other monetary measures include:

    • The reduction and waiver of fees for 15 types of securities services in an endeavour to support the securities market
    • Exemption and reduction of bank fees: including transaction and credit info subscription fees.

      

    Philippines

    Impact

    Restrictions on the movement of people:

    Ninoy Aquino International Airport was reopened on 11 May for inbound international flight, though strict guidelines still resume. See more here.

    Restrictions on movement of goods:

    The government has ensured the availability of essential goods, in particular food and medicine, by adopting measures as may reasonably be necessary to facilitate and/or minimise disruption to the supply chain, especially for basic commodities and services to the maximum extent possible. See more here.

    Support

    The government has implemented business support measures including:              

    • Interim Guidelines on Workplace Prevention and Control of Covid-19 on Resumption of Businesses. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) issued a joint document elaborating guidelines on minimum health protocols and standards in light of COVID-19 pandemic for private businesses allowed to operate in MECQ and GCQ. (More here)  The Department of Health (DOH) also released an add-on to the DTI-DOLE joint circular aimed at preventing, controlling, and diminishing infection in the workplace. (More here)
    • Philippine Economic Stimulus Act (PESA)– Congress approved a £20B economic stimulus package to cushion the effects of COVID-19. The package will be primarily allocated to immediate unemployment relief for displaced workers, massive testing, loans for MSMEs, and assistance to ‘critically impacted sectors’ such as tourism, agriculture, transportation, among others. There is also a £10B provision to continue the government’s flagship infrastructure programme. (More here)
    • Tax Reform Under the CREATE Bill. The proposed Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act (CREATE) seeks to reform the country’s tax system to make it more competitive in the region and to correct the incentives system. If approved before Congress session ends on June 3, then it will lower the corporate income tax (CIT) from 30% down to 25%. The bill also targets to extend the sunset period for current incentives beneficiaries from two to seven years based on the earlier proposed Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Rationalization Act (CITIRA) to four to nine years to alleviate the pandemic’s impact on businesses.  (More here)
    • Support for MSMEs– Department of Finance (DOF) rolled out a £2B credit guarantee loan facility for MSMEs most hit by the pandemic. Implemented by the Philippine Guarantee Corp (PhilGuarantee), the loan is estimated to aid more than 12,000 MSMEs. (More here)

     


     

    NORTHEAST ASIA

    Japan

    Impact

    Restrictions on the movement of people are as follows:

     Support

    The government has released COVID-19 Support Packages which include measures such as:

    • ¥2m to corporations and ¥1m to sole proprietors, whose revenue falls by more than 50% in any month of 2020 from previous year
    • No interest loans
    • Deferment of tax and social security contributions
    • Reduction or exemption of local property tax
    • Request to landlords to consider rent deferment
    • Increased subsidy rates for employee leave.

    You can register for more information via dedicated phone lines in Japan:

     

    South Korea

    Impact

    Restrictions on the movement of people as follows:

    Testing on arrival. Passengers will remain at a separate facility for approx 24 hours until the results arrive. If negative, arrivals are still required to undergo quarantine for a period of 14 days. Those with a residence in Korea may self-quarantine there. Those without a residence will be quarantined at government-arranged facilities and charged a fee – likely to be around 100,000KRW (approximately £66) per day. Should they test positive, they are taken to an appropriate healthcare facility.

    Transit is possible, without taking a test, if remaining airside.

    For more information on movement of people see the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/south-korea

    There are currently no restrictions on the movement of goods.

    Support

    Special tax reductions/exemptions for SMEs and VAT breaks resulting for amendment bill on the Restriction of Special Taxation Act

    Ministry of Employment and Labor (MOEL) has broadened the employee retention subsidy to all industries (April – June).

    Additional measures have included:

    • £24bn trade finance for exporters
    • £20bn maturity extension of trade insurance by one year without additional charges
    • £3.3bn low interest loans and guarantees to win major overseas projects
    • 50% discount in trade insurance programs for SMEs
    • £0.6bn wage subsidies for small businesses
    • £1.3bn emergency relief for those outside of unemployment insurance
    • £2.4bn job creation for low income groups and young adults
    • £2.5n job seeker benefits and job training programs

    For more information, please see the Ministry of Economy and Finance website.

     

    Taiwan

    Impact

    Restrictions on the movement of people are as follows:

    • Foreign nationals are not permitted to enter Taiwan with the exception of holders of an Alien Resident Certificate (ARC) or Alien Permanent Resident Certificate (APRC)
    • Companies may however bring in essential workers providing they have special permission to enter. Applications can be made at the Taipei Representative Office in the country from which people plan to travel
    • All those meeting the criteria for entry are required to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival.

    There are currently no restrictions on the movement of goods.

    Support

    A Stimulus package of £28bn (5.6% of GDP) to mitigate impacts & stimulate GDP growth (tax relief, salary subsidies, subsidised loans etc.) with focus on SMEs has been released.

     


     

    AUSTRALASIA

    Australia

    Impact

    Restrictions on the movement of people are as follows:

    • Only Australian citizens, residents and immediate family members can enter the country. All arriving travellers must complete a 14 day quarantine at the port of arrival
    • Inter-state travel restrictions
    • Mandatory social-distancing.

    There are currently no restrictions on the movement of goods.

    Support

    The Australian government has released the following packages to support business:

    Healthcare support to employees/citizens:

     

    New Zealand

    Impact

    Restrictions on the movement of people are as follows:

    • New Zealand has closed its borders to all foreign nationals
    • Only New Zealand citizens, residents and immediate family members can enter the country. All arriving travellers must complete a 14 day quarantine at the port of arrival. There are limited travel ban exemptions. See border-closures-and-exceptions
    • There are also domestic travel restrictions. Citizens are asked to stay regional
    • The New Zealand government is temporarily relaxing visa conditions for temporary migrants and international students already working in essential services. For more information, see here: coronavirus-update-NZ Immigration

    There are currently no restrictions on the movement of goods.

    Support

    The New Zealand government has released a $20bn economic response package which includes $8bn of wage subsidies, $2.8bn in business tax changes, a $6.3bn Business Finance Guarantee scheme, $3bn income support for vulnerable people and carers.

    Wage Subsidy relief – a business that can show it has had a 30% decline in revenue for any month between January and June 2020 compared to the year before can claim wage subsidies.

    Business Finance Guarantee Scheme – provides short-term credit to small and medium-sized businesses affected by the COVID-19 crisis. New Zealand businesses will be eligible to apply to their bank for a loan of up to NZD 500,000. The loans will only be available to businesses with a turnover of between NZD 250,000 and NZD 80 million per annum.

    New Zealand Inland Revenue will not require those businesses to pay any tax due now and will write-off any penalties and interest that arise from late payment. The government has also enacted a number of other tax changes in connection with COVID-19 and further tax changes are likely.

    Six-month deferred mortgage scheme for small to medium enterprises whose incomes have been affected by COVID-19.

    For more information, see the links below:

     

    Disclaimer: DIT has created this repository using publicly available information. DIT and Asia House not responsible for, and cannot guarantee the accuracy of, information on sites that it does not manage; nor should the inclusion of a hyperlink be taken in itself to mean endorsement by the DIT or Asia House of the site, the site owner, or any specific content to which it points.


    Asia House services

    Asia House offers a range of services to support businesses and organisations, including bespoke events, online briefings, research, political intelligence, and stakeholder engagement and strategic communications advice. We are also running a coronavirus monitoring service, bringing together key public health and economic data, as well as the latest policy responses, from across Asia. These reports are shared with Corporate Members each week.

    For more information about these services, including Asia House’s coronavirus monitoring reports, please contact Sarah King, Head of Stakeholder Engagement, at: sarah.king@asiahouse.co.uk 

     

    VIEW UPCOMING ASIA HOUSE EVENTS