Workshop Wet Arbeidsmarkt in Balans voor uitzendbureaus

Workshop Wet Arbeidsmarkt in Balans voor uitzendbureaus
(in het bijzonder ook de back-office dienstverleners/-gebruikers)
en payrollwerkgevers

 


Wanneer:     Donderdag 22 augustus 2019

Waar:            Wintertaling advocaten & notarissen
………………. Antonio Vivaldistraat 66
………………. 1083 HP Amsterdam

16:00 uur     inloop

16:30 uur     presentatie + interactieve sessie

17:30 uur     borrel




Per 1 januari a.s. treedt de Wet Arbeidsmarkt in Balans (de ‘WAB’) in werking.

De WAB heeft raakvlakken met het gehele arbeidsrecht, maar raakt in het bijzonder de flexibele arbeidsmarkt. Alle dienstverleners die arbeidskrachten ter beschikking stellen op basis van (thans) de uitzendovereenkomst -maar ook hun inleners- gaan met de consequenties van die wet te maken krijgen en die consequenties gaan best ver.

In onze presentatie geven wij vanuit de advocatenpraktijk een overzicht van de belangrijkste wijzigingen. Wij zullen vooral de praktische aspecten belichten die voor u relevant zijn. U moet daarbij denken aan de volgende aspecten:

1. Wat betekenen de wijzigingen voor de praktijk van uitzendbureaus en payrollwerkgevers?
2. Wat is na de behandeling van de WAB in de Eerste Kamer nu precies het verschil tussen uitzenden en payrollen en hoe dient men daarmee in de praktijk om te gaan?
3. Wat betekenen de wijzigingen voor de back-office dienstverlening en hoe dient men daarmee in de praktijk om te gaan?
4. Welke gevolgen van de WAB treden per 1 januari a.s. direct in werking en welke gevolgen later (overgangsrecht, pensioen)?
5. Met welke risico’s wordt de inlener geconfronteerd en wat kan de inlener daar aan doen?
6. Wat zijn verder de belangrijkste voor- en nadelen van de nieuwe wet?

Omdat een groot aantal aspecten van de WAB direct zullen werken vanaf 1 januari a.s. kunt u eigenlijk niet wachten met uw voorbereiding.

Wij willen u daarom een platform bieden om u tijdig te informeren over de WAB en uw vragen te beantwoorden.

Wij vernemen dan ook graag tegen welke punten van de WAB u aanloopt en met welke vragen u zit. Deze aspecten kunnen wij ook betrekken in onze presentatie.

* * * * *

 

Na de presentatie is er tijd voor informeel contact met een hapje en een drankje, bij mooi weer op ons dakterras.

Het bijwonen van de workshop is kosteloos. Als u belangstelling heeft in onze workshop dan zien wij uw aanmelding graag voor 8 augustus a.s. tegemoet. U kunt zich aanmelden via w.groustra@wintertaling.nl of j.horsten@wintertaling.nl.
Mocht u op de geplande datum onverhoopt verhinderd zijn maar wel belangstelling hebben voor de workshop, dan verzoeken wij u dat ook aan te geven. Dan zoeken we voor u naar een alternatief.

Wij hopen u op onze workshop te mogen verwelkomen.

Met vriendelijke groet,

 

Wilfred Groustra en
Jennifer Horsten

An Overview of Chinese Art Law: Collectors on Tiptoes

An Overview of Chinese Art Law: Collectors on Tiptoes

Transition from Irrationality to Maturity

The Chinese art market is continuing its restructuring which started from 2015. While its global share shrunk with a 5.21% reduction in 2018, the market is moving towards maturity and leaving the days of much-hyped bidding behind. The latest report from the European Fine Art Foundation (TEFAF)[1] indicates that artwork trading through auctions in China no longer is deemed as an investment vehicle. Chinese secondary-market sales is less irrational than it was in 2011, when turnover hit a record US$ 5.1 billion for fine art and antiques in mainland auctions.[2]

According to the report, a new generation of collectors is shaping a different landscape of Chinese art market. There is a steady progress for Chinese oil paintings and contemporary art. As a young market, it has a clear potential for academic and marketing growth. Although sales figures indicate that Chinese calligraphy and painting market is plummeting, there were still eight contemporary works in the 2018 top 100, and three of them were sold for over $10 million. Such phenomenon demonstrates that investors’ attention is slowly shifting to artistic value.[3]

An Outline of Chinese Art Law on the Purchase and Export of Artworks

The term “artwork”, according to Article 1 of Interim Provisions on the Importation and Exportation of Artwork[4], refers to paintings, works of calligraphy, seal cuttings, sculptures and carvings, artistic photographs, installation art, industrial art and the limited replicas of the above-mentioned works. It does not encompass cultural relics that are governed by the Relics Protection Law and its associated laws and regulations, e.g. ancient tombs, ancient architectural structures and cave temples.

Restrictions on cross-border artwork sales

Any artworks created after 1911 are controlled according to the lists of artists issued by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH)[5]. While these artworks can be freely sold domestically, the export is subject to prior examination and approval of the related authorities. As for other artworks which are not part of the list, nor fall into the category of cultural relics, the export of a reasonable number of pieces for personal use should be declared to customs beforehand. In the case of export for public purposes, the exporter must entrust a qualified export agency to assist with the application process.

It is worth noting that Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen have established free-ports for artworks, the principle of which is to promote free entry and exit.

Tax on artwork transaction

Capital gains tax is levied as a kind of income tax under the Circular Regarding Strengthening and Regulating the Imposition of Individual Income Tax on Incomes Derived from Auctions by Individuals.[6] The sale of an artwork by someone other than its creator is considered to be a transfer of property – which is taxable. When the sale is made at auction, the basic expenses for taxation should be evidenced by formal documents.

Regarding the value-added tax, the Provisional Regulations of the PRC on Value-added Tax (VAT)[7] provides that the VAT rate is 17%. The VAT for exported goods, however, is 0%. Moreover, there is no wealth tax levied in China.

Future Prospective: Keep Up with Tax Reform

As the Chinese art market matures, cumbersome supervisory procedure and heavy tax burden have created hurdles to foreign collectors who are interested in Chinese art market. Even though significant tax breaks are unlikely, it is feasible that Beijing reduces tax and currency restrictions that have limited the art market’s growth.

We shall be happy to assist you with any queries on the transfer of artworks in- and out of China, and subsequent tax issues.

[1] TEFAF, Art Market Report – The Chinese Art Market, < https://www.tefaf.com/about/art-market-report>

[2] Tim Schneider, The Much-Hyped Chinese Art Market’s Best Days May Already Be Gone, <https://news.artnet.com/market/tefaf-chinese-art-market-1488982>

[3] TEFAF, Art Dealer Finance 2018, < https://amr.tefaf.com/assets/uploads/TEFAF-Art_Market_Report.pdf >

[4] http://www.lawinfochina.com/display.aspx?lib=law&id=8134&CGid=

[5] http://www.sach.gov.cn/

[6] http://www.fdi.gov.cn/1800000121_39_3151_0_7.html

[7] http://www.gov.cn/zhengce/content/2017-12/01/content_5243734.htm

5th Judicial Interpretation of China’s Company Law

5th Judicial Interpretation

of China’s Company Law

On April 28, 2019, the Supreme People’s Court promulgated the Provisions on Several Issues concerning the Application of the Company Law of the People’s Republic of China (V)[1] which came into effect on April 29 2019. In China it is customary for the Supreme Court from time to time to share their views on how they interpret legislation as few cases are published in jurisprudence. It applies to all companies established in China, including both domestic and foreign-invested companies. While the interpretation is short with only 5 provisions, it has strengthened the protection of minority shareholders and demonstrated a clear intention to encourage the resolution of disputes between shareholders in ways that avoid dissolving the invested company.

  1. Connected Transactions (Article 1 & Article 2)

Article 1 is based on article 21 of Company Law which prohibits connected parties from prejudicing the interests of the company by abusing their connected relationship with it. Accordingly, a minority shareholder of a company who satisfies the conditions under Article 151 of China’s Company law is entitled to claim loss and damage against the company’s controlling shareholder, actual controller, director, supervisor or senior management for the benefit of the company, if a connected transaction has damaged the interests of the company and the company has failed to take legal action itself.  A qualified minority shareholder is, according to Article 151 of Company Law, any shareholder with more than 1 percent shares of the company for at least 180 consecutive days by itself or with others. Additionally, to loosen the shareholder’s burden of proof, it was stipulated that the liabilities cannot be waived by simply claiming that all necessary procedures for the transactions have been fulfilled (e.g. fulfilling obligation of information disclosure, etc.).

Furthermore, Article 2 of the 5th Judicial Interpretation provides that if under any circumstance which may render the connected transaction contract voidable or revocable, a qualified shareholder may sue to the court to invalidate or to revoke the contract pursuant to Article 151 of Company law if the company itself fails to take such action.

  1. Removal of Directors (Article 3)

The 5th Judicial Interpretation makes it clear that a director may be removed from the board by effective resolutions of the shareholders meeting or shareholders general meeting prior to the expiry of the director’s term of office. However, this mechanism still does not work in the situation of a deadlock within the company.

  1. Time limit 1 year for profit distribution (Article 4)

If resolutions to distribute profits to the shareholders have been passed by a shareholder’s meeting or general meeting, such profit distribution should be completed in accordance with the times stated in the resolutions, or in the absence of that, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the company’s Article of Association (“AoA”), but in any event it shall be within 1 year after the date of the resolutions.

  1. Resolution of shareholder’s disputes (Article 5)

Material disputes between shareholders of a limited liability company may lead to a termination of the shareholder’s participation agreement and, ultimately, dissolution of the company. That may in turn affect local community and economy, especially the smaller ones. The 5th Judicial Interpretation provides that the court which hears major disputes between shareholders should endeavor to mediate and support any agreements between them to resolve the disputes in the following events:

  • Redemption of some shareholder’s equity interests by the company;
  • Transfer of equity interests between the shareholders;
  • Transfer of equity interests to a third party;
  • Capital reduction of the company;
  • Split-up of the company;
  • Other ways that can resolve the shareholders’ disputes, resume the normal operation, and prevent dissolution of the company.

For any questions regarding China’s Company Law and its interpretations, please feel free to contact Wintertaling China Desk.

[1] Provisions of the Supreme People’s Court on Some Issues about the Application of the Compnay Law of the People’s Republic of China V, < http://lawv3.wkinfo.com.cn/document/show?aid=MTAxMDAxMzE1MjE%253D&collection=legislation&showType=0&lang=zh_CN >

An Overview of the New Changes in China’s Tax law

An Overview of the New Changes in China’s Tax law

In order to encourage the development of certain industries, tax reform in China has continued by a publication of a host of tax incentives in begin 2019, ranging from adjustment of value-added tax (“VAT”) rate to reduction of corporate income tax (“CIT”). This article highlights the changes that may directly affect doing business in China by foreign taxpayers.

  1. New VAT policies

The Ministry of Finance, State Taxation Administration, and the General Administration of Customs have jointly on April 1, 2019, released several new policies on VAT to fundamentally reshape the country’s VAT regime, aiming to encourage economic growth in certain industries by lowering VAT rates and increasing VAT credits. The latest changes mark the final stages of China’s overhaul of its VAT system.

Three major changes to the new VAT policies are highlighted hereinafter.

(1) Reducing VAT rate

Starting from April 1, 2019, Chinese taxpayers who were originally subject to VAT rates of 16% (manufacture industry) and 10% (real estate industry; telecommunication industry; agricultural industry) on import and export goods, will now be subject to an reduced 13% and 9 % respectively, 6% VAT rates remain the same. [1]

For goods purchased by overseas travelers, the departure tax refund rate has now been adjusted to 11% and 8% from 13% and 9% respectively.

(2) Changing the redemption of input VAT credit for real estate and projects under construction

From April 1, 2019, the company registered as a general VAT taxpayer in China can claim the full input VAT credit (meaning added cash flow into the company) all at once for purchases of real estate and construction services. Previously, it was stipulated that the input VAT credits for purchases of real estate and construction services are claimed over a two-year period.

(3) Allowing input VAT credits for excess input VAT credits

According to old rules, when a company’s input VAT exceeds the output VAT, meaning the VAT charged and collected from customers, the excess VAT will be carried forward to offset the output VAT in the next tax period.

Under the new policy, companies are able to enjoy a refund on their excess input VAT under paragraph 8 of the policy,[2] if the following criteria are met:

  • If the overdraft VAT for each of the six consecutive months (two consecutive quarters if taxed quarterly) is not less than RMB 500,000;
  • The taxation credit is rated as A or B;
  • They have not received refunds on their levy;
  • There have been no penalties by tax authorities 36 months before its claim for VAT refund; and
  • They have not committed VAT fraud in the last 36 months prior to claim.
  1. New CIT

A new corporate income tax (CIT) policy was released in order to encourage enterprises to engage in pollution prevention and control which is aligned with the government’s environmental goals.

The policy was jointly announced by the Ministry of Finance, State Administration of Taxation, National Development and Reform Commission, and Ministry of Ecology and Environment on April 13 in The Announcement on the Third Party Enterprise Income Tax Policy Concerning Pollution Prevention and Control.[3] It will be implemented retroactively from January 1, 2019 until December 31, 2021.

Under Article 5 of the incentive, a reduced CIT rate of 15% is rewarded to qualified enterprises that are commissioned by enterprises or the government to operate or maintain environmental pollution control facilities. Requirements for qualified enterprise are:

  • The enterprise shall be registered in accordance with PRC law;
  • The enterprise has been operating or maintaining environmental pollution control facilities for more than a year;
  • The enterprise shall hire no less than five technicians with intermediate titles, or two with senior titles;
  • The annual income deriving from environmental protection services must account for at least 60% of total revenue;
  • The enterprise shall have resources and laboratory of its own to meet the testing standards of pollutants;
  • The enterprise shall be able to ensure normal operation so that pollutants can be continuously monitored and treated to meet required standards; and
  • The enterprise shall have a tax credit rating not assessed as C or D within the past three years.

Enterprises may self-declare to be included within the regime of the incentive. Afterwards, the ecology and environment department may be engaged in when verifying an enterprise’s eligibility.

Wintertaling China Desk will you posted about the implementation of new legislation in China. Should you have any questions, please do reach out to us. We accept no liability for any mistakes or misinterpretation. This article is merely a general advice.

[1] Announcement on deepening policies related to VAT reform, <http://www.chinatax.gov.cn/n810341/n810755/c4160283/content.html>

[2] Announcement on deepening policies related to VAT reform, <http://www.chinatax.gov.cn/n810341/n810755/c4160283/content.html>

[3] https://www.china-briefing.com/news/china-pollution-control-tax-incentives/

 

The Food & Beverage Industry in China, An Attractive Destination

The Food & Beverage Industry in China

An Attractive Destination

  1. Overview

The ever-growing Food and Beverage (F&B) industry in China, with a US$ 700 billon share of the global market, is currently deemed as an attractive destination for many investors. The revenue of the F&B industry in 2019 has amounted to US$22.7 billion, demonstrating a growth of 22.5 percent comparing with that in 2018.[1] This makes China’s F&B market the biggest revenue generator in the world.

Consumer dynamic in the country is usually what the potential investors often first take notice of. According to China Brief, a growing awareness of health foods is demonstrated in Chinese consumer behavior, which has impacted on their purchasing behavior. Consumers in tier one cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, etc.) have shown a high level of demand for foreign F&B products, and the demand for foreign F&B products are also strong in tier two and three markets.[2]

After studying the market potential for F&B products, foreign investors need to pay close attention to China’s food safety laws and import regulations as China maintaining a strict regulatory for F&B products. Foreign F&B products are falling under the regime as soon as they reach the country.

  1. China’s Food Safety Law

(1) Health food

Health foods that contain ingredients outside the approved list of health food ingredients must be registered with China Food and Drug Administration (hereinafter “CFDA”).[3] CFDA recordal is required when health food is imported for the first time and serve to supplement vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Other health food must be recorded with provincial level food and drug administrations. The recent draft of Implementing Regulations has suggested that importation should have recordal of three months.

Furthermore, label and instruction on packages of health food shall contain the statement “this product cannot replace medicine.”[4] That is, it should not refer to any preventive or therapeutic function. Functions and ingredients of the health foods must be consistent with those stated on their packages.

(2) Online food platform

Ordering food online is now a vital trend in China for both domestic and foreign investors. The safety of food purchased over the internet has raised issues. Providers of third-party online food trading platforms must review a trader’s permit and the real identity of the trader shall be registered. As soon as online food platform provider is aware of food safety violations, it shall stop the retailers from such activities and report them to local FDAs. For serious violations, the provider must immediately stop providing the internet platform service.

(3) Food additives

According to Article 3 of GB 2760-2011[5], the usage principle of food additives is that, firstly, it should not generate any health hazard for our body. Secondly, it should not conceal food decay and deterioration. Thirdly, the additives should not be used for the purpose of addition, adulteration and falsification. Furthermore, it should not reduce the nutritional value of food itself and the usage amount in food should be reduced as far as possible. Permitted food additives are listed in the instrument as annex.

  1. Import Regulation / Labelling

A manufacturer and international exporter must be registered upon approved organisms as the Certification and Accreditation Administration (“CAA”) in the country where the product will be exported in the “list of importations of food submitted to the registration of the company”. Health food products are submitted to special conditions for registration which is valid for 4 years and the term is extendible if needed.

China requires all imported food products to be labelled in Chinese simplified characters in order to facilitate the comprehension and the clearance, but also need to mention:[6]

  • Standard name of the food product
  • List of ingredients in percentage
  • Names and addresses of manufacturers, local agents or distributors
  • Date of production, date of suggested consumption, expiry date and guide for the storage.
  • Country of origin
  • Category of quality
  • Code of national norm / Industrial norm for the production
  • Specials contents

The content of the label shall be approved by the Service of Inspection and Quarantine (CIQS), as the regulations are continuously changing, Wintertaling China Desk is ready to assist you in your F&B investment in China.

[1] DBS Bank, China/Hong Kong Industry Focus: China Food & Beverage Sector, pp. 1 < https://www.dbs.com/aics/pdfController.page?pdfpath=/content/article/pdf/>

[2] DBS Bank, China/Hong Kong Industry Focus: China Food & Beverage Sector, pp. 3 < https://www.dbs.com/aics/pdfController.page?pdfpath=/content/article/pdf/>

[3] 2015 Food Safety Law of the People’s Republic of China (Food Safety Law), < https://www.hfgip.com/sites/default/files/law/food_safety_-_16.02.2016.pdf>

[4] Andrew Sim , Esq., and Yilan Yang, Esq, China: An Overview of the New Food Safety Law, < https://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/enewsletter/china-an-overview-of-the-new-food-safety-law/>

[5] http://www.svscr.cz/wp-content/files/zivocisne-produkty/GB_2760-2011_Food-Additives.pdf

[6] Prepackaged foods Label Regulation, GB771, 8-2011, <http://www.nhfpc.gov.cn/sps/s3594/201402/544c0539b95d4d35b99ffbc105579071.shtml>

荷兰商事法庭

荷兰商事法庭

 

2019年1月1日,阿姆斯特丹州法院将设立一个专门从事国际商事诉讼的商会,称之为荷兰商事法庭(NCC)。相较于新加坡和伦敦设立的类似的法庭,荷兰将成为包括法国,德国和比利时在内的欧洲趋势的领跑者。

 

NCC的主要特点是:只适用于商事纠纷,并且必须在某种程度上包含跨境因素,当事人各方甚至可以拥有荷兰双重国籍,双方的合同中必须约定了选择NCC的管辖权条款或者在争议发生后双方达成一致选择NCC作为管辖法院,法官都是有国际法律事务的操作经验的专业法官,并均从荷兰法院招募而来,阿姆斯特丹将成为所有一审和上诉案件(NCCA)的场所,通讯和备案完全以数字方式处理(英文),欧盟律师可以在NCC上答辩,前提是他们通过荷兰律师注册并掌握英语,一审的诉讼费是固定的15,000欧元,禁令7,500欧元,上诉费20,000欧元,律师费是按类别收取的,适用的是荷兰民事诉讼法并联合适用其他规则,国际律师协会的证据规则,同时法院适用各方共同选择或遵循荷兰国际私法下的所有管辖法律。

 

如果NCC成功地征服法律行业,律师和内部法律顾问在起草国际合同时系统地采纳NCC作为选择法院条款,那么3年内每年50到100个案例的目标工作量似乎是雄心勃勃但不无可能的。 NCC在国际仲裁方面的优势在于它必须更节约时间/成本,其法院裁决在2012年布鲁塞尔条约(重订)下可以在整个欧盟范围内更易于执行,并且在1971年“海牙外国民事执行公约”(也曾重订一次)进一步在全球范围内实施。 NCC不仅适用于跨国公司和国际运营银行,也适用于规模较小的跨境贸易公司,投资者和非营利组织。毕竟,荷兰经济在国际上占据主导地位并且英语在荷兰是通用语言。 Wintertaling正在密切关注着NCC的发展,以便客户使用这一全新的方案来解决争议。

中国科技创新如何改变欧洲经营模式

中国科技创新如何改变欧洲经营模式 — 以支付宝&微信支付为例

肖涵韧

随着新一轮科技革命和产业变革的发展,电子商务逐渐成为世界经济的亮点和新增长点。在中国,电子商务发展尤为迅速。从1998年阿里巴巴等B2B电子商务企业成立开始,中国电子商务开启了快速发展的二十年。2016年,中国电子商务交易额已相当于国民生产总值的35%并高达26.1万亿元,而电子支付支撑服务业市场规模已高达5.5万亿美元,同比之下,美国市场仅1120亿美元,二者相差50倍。荷兰在2016年的电子交易市值则为201.6亿欧元。

而在中国的网络支付市场,有两家网络金融巨头,占据了至少90%的份额,他们就是支付宝和微信支付。支付宝是成立于2004年的第三方支付平台,自2014年第二季度开始,便已成为当今全球最大的移动支付厂商。支付宝主要提供包括网购担保交易、支付、转账、信用卡还款、手机充值等支付服务、为零售百货、电影院线、连锁超市和出租车等多个行业提供服务以及余额宝等理财服务

支付宝为何会取得成功,主要得益于三点:运营模式,盈利模式和安全模式。支付宝属于信用担保型平台,其运作的实质是以支付宝为信用中介,在买家确认收到符合约定的货物前,由支付宝替买卖双方保存货款的一种托管服务。这种支付模式有效地突破了现代电子商务发展过程中的支付信用瓶颈。同时也是这种支付模式,使得支付宝账户上沉淀了巨额资金,由于支付宝支付给网店的货款是按照周甚至月度在结算,由此也为支付宝产生了巨大的利息收入。除此之外,作为第三方支付平台,支付宝会根据缴纳给银行的手续费率向客户收取服务佣金,以及各种线上广告收入和增值型金融服务,这些都构成了支付宝的收入来源。为了保障电子用户的信息安全和支付安全,支付宝利用手机动态口令,数字证书,宝令,支付盾,第三方证书,甚至笑脸支付来提供身份认证。微信支付,作为另一家商业巨头,其抢占移动支付市场份额的策略则是用线下支付结合在线支付。微信支付独创了一种加密技术以保护账号安全,用户们只需在微信中绑定一张银行卡,便可以完成自己的身份认证,用户在支付的时候只需在自己的智能手机上输入密码,便可完成支付。此外,微信支付还运用二维码科技,推出扫码支付以及公众号支付和APP支付多种支付方式,以及微信红包,代金券,电子折扣卡等新服务。

然而,纵观欧洲电子支付产业的发展,却似乎已经停滞不前,仍然使用的是传统的电子支付方式。当人们在使用网络交易,如网购时,仍需要通过繁琐的步骤进行支付,线下商店超市更是不存在扫码支付这类在中国早已成为人们习以为常的便捷支付方式。在欧洲,人们出行仍然需要携带银行卡或者现金,更不要提通过手机app即可完成借贷,理财,购买电影票甚至在线选座等活动。由此可见,欧洲的电子支付市场仍有巨大的发展空间。

2015年,欧盟理事会通过了第二部支付服务法令,其旨在完善欧洲支付系统,为消费者提供更好的体验和保护。一家领先的研究分析公司Juniper Research也预测这部法令将会成为金融科技领域的下一个大事件。支付服务法令对消费者和支付领域的未来都是一场变革,也是转变欧洲经营模式的一种机遇。

除此之外,荷兰的支付平台Adyen计划于2018年6月在欧洲上市。此支付平台于2006年成立,2017年处理的交易额超过1000亿欧元。它与支付宝在某种程度上有着相似的运营机制,可以在单一的系统中让商家接受付款,在线上或移动设备或销售点盈利。值得一提的是,在2017年,Adyen为了让全球的商家在店内更易于接受中国消费者的非现金支付,与支付宝平台展开了合作。

在经济转型和技术革命的大环境下,欧洲可以从中国的电子支付变革中学习经验并在未来予以实践。

中国科技创新如何改变欧洲经营模式

中国科技创新如何改变欧洲经营模式 ——以支付宝&微信支付为例

肖涵韧

随着新一轮科技革命和产业变革的发展,电子商务逐渐成为世界经济的亮点和新增长点。在中国,电子商务发展尤为迅速。从1998年阿里巴巴等B2B电子商务企业成立开始,中国电子商务开启了快速发展的二十年。2016年,中国电子商务交易额已相当于国民生产总值的35%并高达26.1万亿元,而电子支付支撑服务业市场规模已高达5.5万亿美元,同比之下,美国市场仅1120亿美元,二者相差50倍。荷兰在2016年的电子交易市值则为201.6亿欧元。

而在中国的网络支付市场,有两家网络金融巨头,占据了至少90%的份额,他们就是支付宝和微信支付。支付宝是成立于2004年的第三方支付平台,自2014年第二季度开始,便已成为当今全球最大的移动支付厂商。支付宝主要提供包括网购担保交易、支付、转账、信用卡还款、手机充值等支付服务、为零售百货、电影院线、连锁超市和出租车等多个行业提供服务以及余额宝等理财服务

支付宝为何会取得成功,主要得益于三点:运营模式,盈利模式和安全模式。支付宝属于信用担保型平台,其运作的实质是以支付宝为信用中介,在买家确认收到符合约定的货物前,由支付宝替买卖双方保存货款的一种托管服务。这种支付模式有效地突破了现代电子商务发展过程中的支付信用瓶颈。同时也是这种支付模式,使得支付宝账户上沉淀了巨额资金,由于支付宝支付给网店的货款是按照周甚至月度在结算,由此也为支付宝产生了巨大的利息收入。除此之外,作为第三方支付平台,支付宝会根据缴纳给银行的手续费率向客户收取服务佣金,以及各种线上广告收入和增值型金融服务,这些都构成了支付宝的收入来源。为了保障电子用户的信息安全和支付安全,支付宝利用手机动态口令,数字证书,宝令,支付盾,第三方证书,甚至笑脸支付来提供身份认证。微信支付,作为另一家商业巨头,其抢占移动支付市场份额的策略则是用线下支付结合在线支付。微信支付独创了一种加密技术以保护账号安全,用户们只需在微信中绑定一张银行卡,便可以完成自己的身份认证,用户在支付的时候只需在自己的智能手机上输入密码,便可完成支付。此外,微信支付还运用二维码科技,推出扫码支付以及公众号支付和APP支付多种支付方式,以及微信红包,代金券,电子折扣卡等新服务。

然而,纵观欧洲电子支付产业的发展,却似乎已经停滞不前,仍然使用的是传统的电子支付方式。当人们在使用网络交易,如网购时,仍需要通过繁琐的步骤进行支付,线下商店超市更是不存在扫码支付这类在中国早已成为人们习以为常的便捷支付方式。在欧洲,人们出行仍然需要携带银行卡或者现金,更不要提通过手机app即可完成借贷,理财,购买电影票甚至在线选座等活动。由此可见,欧洲的电子支付市场仍有巨大的发展空间。

2015年,欧盟理事会通过了第二部支付服务法令,其旨在完善欧洲支付系统,为消费者提供更好的体验和保护。一家领先的研究分析公司Juniper Research也预测这部法令将会成为金融科技领域的下一个大事件。支付服务法令对消费者和支付领域的未来都是一场变革,也是转变欧洲经营模式的一种机遇。

除此之外,荷兰的支付平台Adyen计划于2018年6月在欧洲上市。此支付平台于2006年成立,2017年处理的交易额超过1000亿欧元。它与支付宝在某种程度上有着相似的运营机制,可以在单一的系统中让商家接受付款,在线上或移动设备或销售点盈利。值得一提的是,在2017年,Adyen为了让全球的商家在店内更易于接受中国消费者的非现金支付,与支付宝平台展开了合作。

在经济转型和技术革命的大环境下,欧洲可以从中国的电子支付变革中学习经验并在未来予以实践。

Legal and economic aspects of Chinese “One Belt One Road” investments into Europe via The Netherlands

IPBA – legal update

Bart Kasteleijn wrote an article for the The Inter-Pacific Bar Association. See here the article

Introduction

President Xi JinPing has in his opening speech at the 19th Congress of the Communistic Party of China in October 2017 highlighted the ambitious plans of the Peoples Republic of China (“PRC” or “China”) to expand its new Silk Road to Europe also named as One Belt One Road, abbreviated to “OBOR”.

Command of competition law and harmonization law of the European Union (“EEC” law) is vital for attorneys advising Chinese investors in regard to their European inbound investments in capital markets, private companies and real estate. EEC law is extensive and detailed, even for lawyers specialized in this domain. This article describes the macro-economic and legal backdrop against which Chinese investments should be perceived, from a Dutch/EU perspective.

 

Economic data

To start with, the economic parameters of the trade and investment flows between the PRC and the EU, as reported by the EU Statistical bureau Eurostat https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat  for the calendar year 2015, as reported on 12 June 2016, are summed up as follows:

Imports from the PRC to EU totaled € 350,5 billion, and the breakdown of this figure is as follows: primary goods € 8,1 billion (of which food/drink 4,8, raw materials 2,9 and energy 0,4), manufactured goods € 341 billion (chemicals 12, machinery & vehicles 176, other manufactures 149) and Others € 1,3 billion.

Exports from the EU to PRC totaled € 170 billion, resulting in an overall trade deficit (for the EU) of € 180,5, or approximately 50%.

The ranking of EU countries for China (“CN”) imports into Europe is: Germany € 69 billion, The Netherlands (“NL”) € 66 billion (primarily due to its trans-shipment function towards  the European hinterland), UK € 55 billion, France € 28 billion and Italy € 27 billion.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce for the period January to September 2016 (www.countryreport.mofcom.gov.cn) reports a combined export and import volume NL/CN totaling $ 57.7 billion, a decrease of 4,6% compared to 2015. Export NL to CN during this period was: $ 8,33 billion, with an increase of 12%. Import CN to NL was $49,35 billion, a decrease of 6,9%. The trade deficit is $41,01 billion, a decrease of 10%.

Goods exported to China are mainly: electronics, food, drink, tobacco and watches. Imports into EU from China consist of a wide range of manufactured and raw materials.

The major competitors in Europe of China are Germany, US and Japan. China stays competitive in labor-intensive sectors, like furniture, toys and textile.

Many leading and midsized Chinese corporations have located their European headquarters, marketing and sales forces, customer care centers, and assembly & repair activities centers in NL due to its geographical, logistical and organizational gateway function to the heart of Europe. Rotterdam is the largest container seaport in the EU and Schiphol airport ranks number 3 in EU (2016).

Sectors such as electronics, automotive and aviation are heavily represented by Chinese investments. In the Dutch high tech industry, outbound investment from NL to PRC focuses on environmental technique, food processing and agriculture technique. The main motivating factor behind such investments is “technology transfer” sought by Chinese companies, rather than market expansion.

NL ranks number 3 (2015) on the European index of National Gross Product, the most prominent indicator of prosperity and wealth.

The Dutch Government, within the parameters of EU legislation actively promotes and encourages research & development through expansive subsidies and tax credits.

 

Market access of investment

There is no EU agency that generally supervises, let alone approves foreign direct investment (“FDI”) from outside the EU, but each EU member state is allowed to operate an approval system as long as it does not distort the intra-EU community free flow of capital. The Dutch typically scrutinize FDI in the domains of national security, sea and airport infrastructure, nuclear energy, military equipment and IT/telecom and also in all domains all goods originating from United Nations and OECD blacklisted countries.

NL pursues a completely non-discriminative treatment of FDI shareholding in Dutch companies and allows the appointment of non-residents of NL and non-Dutch nationals to the management or supervisory board of directors, capital contribution and repayment, cross border debt borrowing and lending and for repatriation of dividend (profit), royalties and management fees.

All public procurement of goods and services by the government in each EU member State must undergo a EU-wide public tender published in the EU journals, though only above certain thresholds, e.g. for supplies under defense contracts to the central government of each member state >The EU threshold (in the year 2016) for defense was € 135,000, for non-defense € 209,000, for works contracts in general € 5,225,000, for water, energy, transport and postal services € 418,000. So most of the significant public procurement is tendered.

 

Foreign Exchange control

Several EU countries have some form of foreign exchange  control on inbound investment or trade payments. NL only requires reporting, for purely statistical purposes, to the Dutch Central Bank (“DNB”) of transactions in excess of € 25,000.

Also, it should be noted that the 2005 EU Directive 2005/60/EF on Anti-Money Laundering requires all financial service providers (including attorneys) to report so called “unusual transactions“ to the domestic Financial Intelligence Unit (“FIU”) agencies.

 

Competition law

European competition policy under the EU Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (“TFEU”) is a vital part of the EU internal market aiming at the optimal allocation of production means and locations, lowest price-setting and free flow of goods and services within the entire EU internal market. EU competition legislation and case law (from the European Court of Justice) originating from the 1950s forms a comprehensive set of rules that restrict the abuse of a dominant position of companies by limiting concentration and  establishes a level playing field among the market participants by prohibiting state aid, import tariff and non-tariff barriers, cartels and price fixing.

Dutch domestic competition law is greatly inspired by EU law and is, for a greater part, replaced by it, above EU thresholds including merger control for a € 5,000 million (combined) turnover worldwide and a turnover of € 250 million EU wide.

Competition law is excluded (the so called “de-minimis” threshold) in the event of less than 10% of the total relevant market share and if less than eight companies are involved with a combined annual turnover not exceeding € 5.5 million (for supply of goods) or € 1.1 million in all other cases.

 

Forms of investment

FDI can vary from a non-capital cooperation to shareholders’ equity investment. The “light” versions are commercial agency (1986 EU Directive 86/653/EC) implemented in national law e.g. regulating goodwill compensation at termination and, secondly distributorship which falls under the EU Vertical Restraints Regulation regarding interstate restrictions such as price fixing. Few EU member states (including Belgium, not NL) have national legislation on distributorship protecting the distributor when terminated.

The “heavy” versions of FDI are the branch (a non-independent part of the foreign “parent”) and the incorporated limited liability companies (“Ltd.’s”, in NL “Besloten Vennootschap”, abbreviated to “BV”) which are harmonized under several  EU Directives, allowing member states within limits to create their own versions, such as the Dutch “Flex BV” introduced in 2010 with innovative options like non-voting and non-profit shares and a minimum paid-up equity of € 0.01.

The Dutch public company (“NV”) alternative is not suitable for most FDI. Establishment of a BV must be done by a deed executed by a civil law notary, a specialized lawyer. No approval for incorporation is required from the Dutch State.

In NL there is no legal entity version for FDI similar to the Chinese Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise (“WFOE”) and the Sino-Foreign Equity Joint venture (“SFEJV”).

The corporate data are lodged with the Commercial Register which is publicly accessible through www.kvk.nl

 

Finance rules

The Dutch Financial Services Act appoints DNB to license and supervise all financial institutions (such as banks) and the Autoriteit Financiële Markten (“AFM”) for the monitoring of capital markets.

EU “passports” from the European Central Bank (“ECB”) in Frankfurt simplify obtaining branches of financial institutions in each EU member state.

Investment funds comprise two versions under the 2011 EU Directive 2011/61: Undertakings for the Collective Investment in Transferable Securities (“UCITS”) and Alternative Investment Fund Managers (“AIFM”).

In NL, public offerings of shares are prospectus-free if offered to no more than 150 natural or legal persons or if the nominal value per share is below € 100,000.

 

Mergers and acquisitions (M&A)

The popular alternative to a green field investment is the acquisition of a going concern or the statutory merger of the shares or the assets of two existing companies, abbreviated to “M&A”. A cross border statutory merger with a non–EU company is not permitted. So, a PRC company is not eligible for a merger, unless it first creates a EU subsidiary as its EU merger vehicle.

The process of an acquisition of shares (or assets) is in line with international standards, such as non-disclosure agreement, letter of intent, memorandum of understanding, due diligence, share purchase agreement and share transfer agreement (only by notarial deed) and escrow of purchase price. Dutch documents are typically far more brief than Anglo-American style documents.

 

Real estate

In NL there are no  nationality or residence based restrictions in regard to ownership of real estate. Transfer of property is solely by notarial deed. The public land registry can be relied upon as to ownership entitlement.

 

Tax

EU tax rules and regulations have substantial effect on domestic tax legislation which however retains its sovereignty regarding the tax rates and the sorts of taxes (mainly Corporation tax, Income tax, Inheritance tax). Value Added tax (VAT) is however harmonized within the EU due to frequent inter-state transactions, but the rates differ per country.

In NL there are special regimes for foreigners for example 30 percent points reduction of Income tax, and bonded warehousing for customs and VAT. Corporate tax is 20 to 25 % (for profits above €400,000). Dividend withholding tax (15%) is lowered to a 5% source tax in the treaty CN/NL but can be lowered even to zero % by interposing a Dutch cooperative. The source tax between NL and Hong Kong is zero %. However, the government may abolish the dividend tax altogether as of 1 January 2018, both  for foreign and domestic shareholdings.

 

Immigration

For work and a stay longer than 3 months, a stay permit “Machtiging Voorlopig Verblijf (“MVV”) must be applied from the Dutch embassy in Beijing, the consulates in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chongqing and a number of dedicated agencies in second-tier cities in China. For work, the most popular method to obtain a MVV is the so called “highly-skilled” or “Knowledge Migrant” (“KM”) procedure. The KM employee must hold a Dutch employment contract for an indefinite period at a gross monthly salary of at least € 3,170 for age below 30, € 4,342 above age 30 and € 2,272 if graduated in NL. The employer must obtain a KM sponsor license from the Dutch Immigration Authority (“IND”), if existing shorter than 18 months or with less than 50 staff. The employer must draw up a business plan. One-time KM sponsor license costs for an unlimited number of KM workers are € 5,276 or € 2,638 for a start-up company.

The 2013 Modern Migration Policy Regulation (“MoMi”) of IND simplifies residence procedures into one single application.

A “golden visa“ is available for wealthy migrant  with a  personal capital over € 1,250,000 in cash or invested in an own company or in real estate or in qualified investment funds.

 

Labour law

NL labour law is comprehensive and changes fairly often reflecting labour market conditions, new notions of cooperation within trade and industry and the general state of the economy.

 

Summary

The Netherlands is an obvious intermediate or final destination for OBOR investments from China, due to its logistic position in Western Europe and historic economic ties with China.

Getting familiar with EU and Dutch law, albeit through professional lawyers, is crucial for Chinese OBOR investors.

 

Bart Kasteleijn

Wintertaling lawyers & civil law notaries

Amsterdam

The Netherlands