The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented, and its impact to world markets has been reflected in foreign exchange. The impact of COVID-19 touches every part of the economy, and can largely be divided into three categories:
The outbreak of COVID-19 began to impact Hong Kong in late January, following the initial spread of the virus in mainland China. In the first weeks of the outbreak, supply of hygiene related goods, like masks and hand sanitizer, was unable to meet the sharp increase in demand.
Japanese consumption tax is an indirect tax on goods and services, similar to value-added or sales taxes. Tax increases in Japan are notoriously unpopular and changes to the consumption tax have faced long delays and political battles. On October 1, the general consumption tax rate in Japan was raised from 8% to 10%, with a secondary tax tier of 8% for food products meant to be consumed at home. This increase had been delayed multiple times since its initial implementation date in 2015. The last consumption tax increase, from 5% to 8% in 2014, had been the first in 17 years.
Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has continued to spread over the past week and the World Health Organization named the virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on Thursday, January 30. As of Friday morning in China, there were 9,776 confirmed cases and 213 deaths. The WHO stressed in their Thursday press briefing that 99% of cases are in Mainland China. 60% of cases and 96% of deaths are in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak where Wuhan is located. Isolated cases are still emerging internationally, with confirmed cases in Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Australia, Taiwan, Malaysia, Macau, South Korea, United States, France, Germany, United Arab Emirates, Canada, Italy, Vietnam, Cambodia, Finland, India, Nepal, Philippines, and Sri Lanka.
On December 31, 2019, health authorities in China informed the World Health Organization (WHO) of a unique strain of viral pneumonia-like illness emerging in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. Many of the infected first identified were vendors or visitors at a wet market that sold fish and wild animal meat, which was subsequently closed on January 1, 2020.
Since June, Hong Kong has seen unprecedented protests, larger and more frequent than any in the country’s recent history. We have increased the hardship scoring of Hong Kong in response to the rise in political volatility.
Initial costs of renting in England became cheaper last month as the Tenant Fees Act came into effect. While a ban to tenant fees has been discussed for a few years, the current legislation wasn’t finalized and passed until February. Scotland banned letting fees in 2012, and Wales is expected to pass a similar ban this fall.
In the last two weeks, Hong Kong has seen some of the largest protests in its history as citizens and residents have taken to the streets to protest a proposed extradition bill. Demonstrations have been centered around Admiralty and the surrounding areas of Central and Wan Chai.
The GCC and collective tax reforms: Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member countries first agreed to collective tax reforms in 2016, including directives to implement a VAT of 5%, as well as excise taxes, also known as selective taxes, and commonly referred to as “sin taxes.”
While on the roads in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, you’re as likely to pass delivery-laden motor scooters as you are Lamborghinis, and all enjoy the smooth, well organized road systems in the country. Much of the urban areas of the United Arab Emirates are new compared to other major cities in the world and have benefitted from superior construction technology and modern planning philosophies not available in past decades.