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Norway

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

Norway welcomes foreign investment as a matter of policy and generally grants national treatment to foreign investors. Norwegian authorities encourage foreign investment, particularly in the key offshore petroleum sector and in less developed regions such as northern Norway. In 2013, the Government established “Invest in Norway”, the official investment promotion agency, to help attract and assist foreign investors.

While not a member of the European Union, as an EEA signatory, Norway continues to liberalize its foreign investment legislation to conform more closely to EU standards. Current laws, rules, and practices follow below.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Norway’s investment policies vis-a-vis third countries, including the United States, will likely continue to be governed by reciprocity principles and by bilateral and international agreements. The European Economic Area (EEA) free trade accord, which came into force for Norway in 1995, requires the country to apply principles of national treatment to EU members and the other EEA members – Iceland and Liechtenstein — in certain areas where foreign investment was prohibited or restricted in the past. Norway’s investment regime is generally based on the national treatment principle, but ownership restrictions exist on some natural resources and on some activities (fishing/ maritime/ road transport). State ownership in companies can be used as a means of ensuring Norwegian ownership and domicile for these firms.

Government Monopolies

Norway has traditionally barred foreign and domestic investors alike from investing in industries monopolized by the government, including postal services, railways, and the retail sale of alcohol. In 2004, Norway slightly relaxed the restrictions, allowing foreign companies to bid on certain commercial postal services (e.g., air express services between countries) and railway cargo services (notably between Norway and Sweden). In 2016, the government initiated a reform of the railway sector leading to the first railway line to be put up for competition in 2018. The government may allow foreign investment in hydropower (limited to 20 percent of equity), but rarely does so. However, Norway has fully opened the electricity distribution system to foreign participation, making it one of the most liberal power sector investment regimes in the world.

Ownership of Real Property

Foreign investors may generally own real property, though ownership of certain real assets is restricted. Companies must obtain a concession to acquire rights to own or use various kinds of real property, including forests, mines, tilled land, and waterfalls. Foreign companies need not seek concessions to rent real estate, e.g. commercial facilities or office space, provided the rental contract period does not exceed ten years. The two major laws governing concessions are the Act of December 14, 1917, and the Act of May 31, 1974.

Petroleum Sector

The Petroleum Act of November 1996 (superseding the 1985 Petroleum Act) sets forth the legal basis for Norwegian authorities’ awards of petroleum exploration rights, production blocks and follow-up activity. The act covers governmental control over exploration, production, and transportation of petroleum.

Foreign oil companies report no discrimination in the award of petroleum exploration and development blocks in recent licensing rounds. Norway has implemented EU directives requiring equal treatment of EEA oil and gas companies. The Norwegian offshore concession system complies with EU directive 94/33/EU of May 30, 1994, which governs conditions for awards and hydrocarbon development. Norway’s concession process operates on a discretionary basis, with the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy awarding licenses based on which company or group of companies it views will be the best operator for a particular field, rather than purely competitive bids. A number of U.S. energy companies are present on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS).

The Norwegian government has dismantled former tight controls over the gas pipeline transit network that carries gas to the European market. All gas producers and operators on the NCS) are free to negotiate gas sales contracts on an individual basis, with access to the gas export pipeline network guaranteed.

Norwegian authorities encourage the use of Norwegian goods and services in the offshore petroleum sector, but do not require it. The Norwegian share of the total supply of goods and services on the NCS has remained at approximately 50 percent over the last decade.

Manufacturing Sector

Norwegian legislation granting national treatment to foreign investors in the manufacturing sector dates from 1995. Legislation was repealed in July 2002 that formerly required both foreign and Norwegian investors to notify and, in some cases, file burdensome reports to the Ministry of Industry and Trade if their holdings of a company’s equity exceeded certain threshold levels. Foreign investors are not currently required to obtain government authorization before buying shares of Norwegian corporations.

Financial and Other Services

In 2004 Norway liberalized restrictions on acquisitions of equity in Norwegian financial institutions. Current regulations delegate responsibility for acquisitions to the Norwegian Financial Supervisory Authority and streamline the process. Financial Supervisory Authority permission is required for acquisitions of Norwegian financial institutions that exceed defined threshold levels (20, 25, 33 or 50 percent). The Authority assesses the acquisitions to ensure that prospective buyers are financially stable and that the acquisition does not unduly limit competition.

The Authority applies national treatment to foreign financial groups and institutions, but nationality restrictions still apply to banks. At least half the members of the board and half the members of the corporate assembly of a bank must be nationals and permanent residents of Norway or another EEA nation. Effective January 1, 2005, there is no ceiling on foreign equity in a Norwegian financial institution as long as the Authority has granted permission for the acquisition.

The Finance Ministry has abolished remaining restrictions on the establishment of branches by foreign financial institutions, including banks, mutual funds and others. Under the liberalized regime, Norway grants branches of U.S. and other foreign financial institutions the same treatment as domestic institutions.

Media

Media ownership is regulated by the Media Ownership Act of 1997 and the Norwegian Media Authority. No individual party, domestic or foreign, may control more than 1/3 of the national newspaper, radio and/or television markets without a concession. National treatment is granted in line with Norway’s obligations under the EEA accord. The introduction and growing importance of new media forms (including those emerging from the internet and wireless industries) has raised concerns that the existing domestic legal regime (which largely focuses on printed media) is becoming outmoded.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

Norway has not undergone UNCTAD or OECD Investment Policy Reviews in the last ten years.

Business Facilitation

Altinn is a web portal that serves as a one-stop shop for establishing a company and contains the necessary forms; it also provides an electronic dialogue between the business/industry sector, citizens and other stakeholders, and government agencies. . The business registration processes are straight-forward, complete, and open to foreign companies. Please note, however, that registration of Norwegian Registered Foreign Business Enterprises (NUF) cannot be done electronically. A guide for establishing a business is available at the following address: https://www.altinn.no/en/start-and-run-business/ .

Outward Investment

The Government does not incentivize outward investment. Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global, the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world, owns 1.4% of all listed companies in the world.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

Norway recognizes secured interests in property, both movable and real. The system for recording interests in property is recognized and reliable. Norway maintains an open and effective legal and judicial system that protects and facilitates acquisition and disposition of rights in property, including land, buildings, and mortgages.

Intellectual Property Rights

Norway adheres to key international agreements for the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) (e.g., the Paris Union Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, the Berne Copyright Convention, the Universal Copyright Convention of 1952, and the Rome Convention). It has notified its main IPR laws to the World Trade Organization. Norway’s IPR statutes cover the major areas referred to in the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement.

The chief domestic statutes governing IPR include: the Patents Act of December 15, 1967, as amended; the Designs Act of March 14, 2003; the Copyrights Act of May 12, 1961, as amended; the Layout-design Act of June 15, 1990, as amended; the Marketing Act of January 9, 2009; and the Trademarks Act of March 26, 2010. The above legislation also protects trade secrets and industrial designs, including semiconductor chip layout design. As an EEA member, Norway adopted legislation intended to implement the 2001 EU Copyright Directive, though subsequent court cases exposed shortcomings in the legislation (see below).

Patents

The patent office (Patenstyret) grants patents for a period of 20 years (Acts of June 8, 1979, and May 4, 1985). U.S. industry has expressed concerns that Norway’s regulatory framework for process patents filed prior to 1992 denies adequate patent protection for a number of pharmaceutical products. Although Norway introduced product patents for pharmaceuticals in 1992, the old system has left a difficult legacy for pharmaceutical companies, as competitors claiming to use non-patented processes entered the market. Several U.S. pharmaceutical companies filed successful patent infringement lawsuits in Norwegian courts to fend off these new entrants, but others lost their court cases and were later forced to restructure their Norwegian operations with loss of employment. Norway was placed on the Special 301 Watch List in 2008 due to concerns about pharmaceutical patent protection but has not been listed since 2013.

Copyright

Internet piracy in Norway is facilitated by high broadband internet penetration, which makes peer-to-peer downloads of music and video easy and common. Groups that release early copies of new motion pictures on the internet are active in the Norwegian market, and Norway has experienced some “camcording incidents,” where motion pictures are illegally recorded in cinemas. Private organizations like the Motion Picture Association are attempting to raise public awareness of internet and video piracy, for example by running anti-pirating advertisements in movie theaters.

Norway enacted legislation based on the EU’s 2001 Copyright Directive to combat internet piracy in June 2005, but subsequent court cases showed that the law did not give sufficient grounds for enforcement. The GON started a process of revision in 2011, and the amended Copyright Act entered into force in July 2013. The amended Act brings Norwegian copyright protection up to date by clarifying the process for gaining access to infringers’ identities and introducing a site-blocking mechanism. Positive developments on the enforcement side are complemented by the growing popularity of legal streaming alternatives like Netflix and HBO.

Counterfeit and Pirated Goods

Norway does not expressly ban imports or exports of counterfeit or pirated goods for private use or consumption. However, import or export for resale or other commercial purpose is controlled by Norwegian Customs and rights-holders are notified. Customs may seize and hold suspected counterfeit goods for up to five working days, during which time rights-holders may decide whether to proceed with an injunction or other settlement. If the rights-holder does not pursue the case or respond to the notice, the goods are released to the importer (unless considered harmful). By comparison, customs officials in the EU have wider powers to seize, hold, and destroy counterfeit shipments. In 2010, Norwegian Customs established an intellectual property rights (IPR) office to coordinate training and increase awareness. In 2015, the GON launched a new website and an awareness campaign titled “Choose the Real Deal” (velgekte.no).

Enforcement

The Norwegian government does not consider itself obligated, under the EEA Agreement, to implement the European Union Enforcement Directive. Rights holders report that law enforcement authorities have begun to investigate major copyright infringement cases, with the result that several internet sites facilitating infringement were closed down. However, rights holders contend that the authorities still do not give adequate priority to copyright and internet piracy cases.

Resources for Rights Holders

For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/ .
Norwegian Industrial Property Office: http://www.patentstyret.no/en/ 
A list of local lawyers is available at https://no.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/attorneys/.

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is very much part of Norwegian corporate and political consciousness. Significant attention has been given to ethical and sustainable business practices over the last several years; the GON has issued a series of white papers, most recently in 2009, on the responsibility of Norwegian businesses in the global economy. In 2006 and 2007, the GON also set down guidelines for ethical and responsible conduct in state-owned enterprises, and incorporated climate policy, procurement policy, and development policy as parts of the GON’s broader CSR vision.

As an OECD member, Norway adheres to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. Norway’s National Contact Point (NCP) for the OECD Guidelines  raises awareness of the due diligence approach of the Guidelines and handles complaints against Norwegian businesses with international operations, in the event they are not behaving in accordance with the Guidelines. The NCP facilitates resolution of these complaints through dialogue and mediation.

The Norwegian Accounting Act requires companies listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange to provide a report on their policies and practices for corporate governance. The Norwegian Corporate Governance Board, composed of nine independent organizations, issues and updates the Norwegian Code of Practice for the above mentioned companies. Transparency and disclosure are keys to the development of corporate social responsibility. Large enterprises are required under Section 3-3c of the Accounting Act to report on their CSR activities. Public disclosure requirements are increasingly regulated. The work of the EU in this area may lead to the development of regulations of relevance to Norway.

In the mining sector, Norway encourages adherence to the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Afflicted and High-Risk Areas and participates in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).

In order to prevent tax evasion and the use of tax havens to conceal financial information, large enterprises and public-interest entities that are active in the extractive industry or in the logging of primary forests are required to report on a country-by-country basis. In addition, Norway has entered into a number of new bilateral tax information exchange agreements in recent years.

Kompakt  is the Government’s consultative body on matters relating to CSR.

9. Corruption

Business is generally conducted “above the table” in Norway, and Norway ranks 3 out of 180 countries on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index for 2017. Corrupt activity by Norwegian or foreign officials is a criminal offense under Norway’s Penal Code. Norway’s anti-corruption laws cover illicit activities overseas, subjecting Norwegian nationals/companies who bribe officials in foreign countries to criminal penalties in Norwegian courts. In 2008, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched an anti-corruption initiative, focused on limiting corruption in international development efforts.

Norway is a member of the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption watchdog Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and ratified the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption in 2004, without any reservations.

Norway has ratified the UN Anticorruption Convention (2006) and is a signatory of the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery.

Resources to Report Corruption

The Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime (OKOKRIM)
Address: Postboks 8193 Dep, 0034 Oslo
Telephone: +47 23 29 10 00
Email: post.okokrim@politiet.no

Contact at “watchdog” organization:
Guro Slettemark
Secretary General
Transparency International Norge
PB 582 Sentrum
0106 Oslo
slettemark@transparency.no
+47 90 87 46 26

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy

Host Country Statistical Source USG or International Statistical Source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD) 2017 $381.1 Bn 2016 $371.1 Bn www.worldbank.org/en/country 
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical Source USG or International Statistical Source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2016 $6.4 Bn 2016 $32,3 Bn BEA data available at
http://bea.gov/international/direct_
investment_multinational_
companies_comprehensive_data.htm
 
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) 2016 $30.6 Bn 2016 $27.4 Bn BEA data available at
http://bea.gov/international/direct_
investment_multinational_
companies_comprehensive_data.htm
 
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP 2016 $150.3 Bn N/A Inbound FDI represents 41.5% of GDP

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI

Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data
From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)
Inward Direct Investment Outward Direct Investment
Total Inward 149,467 100% Total Outward 181,044 100%
Sweden 31,666 21.2% Netherlands 36,349 20.1%
Netherlands 22,320 15% United States 30,177 16.7%
Luxembourg 13,053 8.7% Sweden 21,645 12%
Germany 8,039 5.4% Singapore 13,250 7.3%
France 7,586 5.1% Denmark 11,789 6.5%
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

Source: Statistic Norway (http://ssb.no/en/ ).
Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment

Portfolio Investment Assets
Top Five Partners (Millions, US Dollars)
Total Equity Securities Total Debt Securities
All Countries 1,059,892 100% All Countries 653,911 100% All Countries 423,981 100%
United States 343,311 32.4% United States 215,068 32.9% United States 128,243 30.2%
United Kingdom 78,817 7.4% Japan 52,209 8% Germany 40,736 9.6%
Japan 75,758 7.1% United Kingdom 50,385 7.7% United Kingdom 28,432 6.7%
Germany 73,674 7% Germany 32,938 5% Japan 23,549 5.6%
France 53,255 5% Switzerland 31,837 4.9% France 22,762 5.4%

Paraguay

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

The Paraguayan government encourages private foreign investment. Paraguay guarantees equal treatment of foreign investors and permits full repatriation of capital and profits. Paraguay has historically maintained the lowest tax burden in the Latin American region, with a 10 percent corporate tax rate and a 10 percent value-added tax (VAT) on most goods and services.

Paraguay’s export and investment promotion bureau, REDIEX, provides useful information for foreign investors, including business opportunities in Paraguay, registration requirements, laws, rules, and procedures.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Foreign and domestic private entities may establish and own business enterprises. Foreign businesses are not legally required to be associated with Paraguayan nationals for investment purposes, though this is strongly recommended, on an unofficial basis, by national authorities.

There is no restriction on repatriation of capital and profits. Private entities may freely establish, acquire, and dispose of business interests.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

The WTO conducted an Investment Policy Review in 2017. Please see following website:
TRADE POLICY REVIEW PARAGUAY MINUTES OF THE MEETING Chairperson: H.E. Mr Juan Carlos Gonzalez (Colombia) .

Business Facilitation

Paraguay has responded to complaints about its traditionally onerous business registration process – previously requiring new businesses to register with a host of government entities one-by-one – by creating a portal in 2007 that provides one-stop service. The Sistema Unificado de Apertura y Cierre de Empresas – SUACE (www.suace.gov.py ) – is the government’s single window for registering a company. The process takes about one month.

Outward Investment

There are no restrictions to Paraguayans investing abroad. The Paraguayan government does not incentivize or promote outward investment.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

The 1992 constitution guarantees the right of private property ownership. While it is common to use real property as security for loans, the lack of consistent property surveys and registries often makes it impossible to foreclose. According to government figures, there is 35 percent more titled land in Paraguay than physically exists. In some cases, acquiring title documents for land can take two years or more. The World Bank’s 2017 Doing Business report ranks Paraguay 76 of 190 for ease of “registering property,” noting the process requires six procedures, averages 46 days, and costs 1.9 percent of the property value.

Paraguay has a “squatter’s rights” law by which ownership  of property can be gained by possession  of it beyond the lapse of 20 years.

Intellectual Property Rights

Paraguay was removed from the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) 2015 Special 301 Report Watch List pursuant to an Out-of-Cycle Review. The United States and Paraguay signed a Memorandum of Understanding on IPR in June 2015, under which Paraguay committed to take specific steps to improve its IPR protection and enforcement environment. Additionally, the MOU solidifies bilateral cooperation by which the United States supports Paraguay’s efforts to strengthen the legal protection and enforcement of IPR. Since coming into office in 2013, the Cartes administration, primarily through National Directorate of Intellectual Property (DINAPI) and partner law enforcement agencies, has escalated enforcement efforts in Paraguay.

Ciudad del Este has been named in either the USTR Notorious Market List or the Special 301 Report for over 16 years. The border crossing at Ciudad del Este, and the city itself reportedly serves as a hub for the distribution of counterfeit and pirated products in the Brazil-Argentina-Paraguay tri-border region and beyond. Informality and border porosity in the area remains a challenge.

Concerns remain about inadequate protection against unfair commercial use of proprietary test or other data generated to obtain marketing approval for agrochemical or pharmaceutical products and the shortcomings in Paraguay’s patent regime. Law 3283 from 2007 and Law 3519 from 2008, (1) require pharmaceutical products and agrochemical products to be registered first in Paraguay to be eligible for data protection; (2) allow regulatory agencies to use test data in support of similar agricultural chemical product applications filed by third parties; and (3) limit data protection to five years. Additionally, Law 2593/05 that modifies Paraguay’s patent law has no regulatory enforcement. Because of this, foreign pharmaceutical companies have seen their patented products openly replicated and marketed under other names by Paraguayan pharmaceutical companies.

Paraguay has ratified all of the Uruguay Round accords, including the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), and has ratified two World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) copyright treaties. For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/ .

For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/ .

Regional IP Attache
U.S. Consulate General – Rio de Janeiro
+ 55 (21) 3823-2499

Deputy Political and Economic Counselor
U.S. Embassy Asuncion
+ 595 (21) 213-715

National Intellectual Property Directorate: https://www.dinapi.gov.py/ .
Paraguayan-American Chamber of Commerce: http://www.amcham.com.py/ .
Local Lawyers: http://photos.state.gov/libraries/paraguay/5/Consular/Attorneys%20at%20Law_001.pdf .

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) is growing with the support of Paraguay’s largest firms. Additionally, the private sector is taking measures to institutionalize ethical business conduct under initiatives such as the Pacto Etico Comercial (Business Ethics Pact). An initiative sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Pacto Etico Comercial was established by over 100 local, U.S., and international companies that committed to creating a code of ethics and undergoing a rigorous auditing process to reach certification. The Paraguayan government does not have any formal programs or policies to encourage RBC.

9. Corruption

Paraguayan law provides criminal penalties for official corruption; however, impunity impedes effective implementation. Historically, officials in all branches and at all levels of government have engaged in corrupt practices. Judicial insecurity and corruption mar Paraguay’s investment climate. Many investors find it difficult to enforce contracts and are frustrated by lengthy bureaucratic procedures, limited transparency and accountability, and impunity. A recent trend is for private companies to insist on arbitration for dispute resolution and bypass the judicial system completely.

The Paraguayan government has taken several steps in recent years to increase transparency and accountability, including the creation of an internet-based government procurement system, the disclosure of government payroll information, the appointment of nonpartisan officials to key posts, and increased civil society input and oversight. Notwithstanding, corruption and impunity continue to affect the investment climate.

The constitution requires all public employees, including elected officials and employees of independent government entities, to disclose their income and assets at least 15 days after taking office and again within 15 days after finishing their term or assignment, but at no point in between, which is problematic for congressional representatives that are re-elected numerous times. Public employees are required to include information on the assets and income of spouses and dependent children. Officials are not required to file periodically when changes occur in their holdings.

UN Anticorruption Convention, OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery

Paraguay signed and ratified the United Nations Anticorruption Convention in 2005.

Resources to Report Corruption

General Auditors Office
Bruselas 1880, Asuncion, Paraguay
+ 595 21 620 0260
atencion@contraloria.gov.py

Public Ministry
Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion c/ Haedo, Asuncion, Paraguay
+ 595 21 454 611
http://www.ministeriopublico.gov.py/direccion-de-denuncias-penales 

Anti-Corruption Secretariat
El Paraguayo Independiente esquina Río Ypane, Asuncion, Paraguay
+ 595 21 450-001/2
http://www.senac.gov.py/ 

Seeds for Democracy
Roma 1055 casi Colon, Asuncion, Paraguay
+ 595 21 420 323
semillas@semillas.org.py

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy

Host Country Statistical Source* USG or International Statistical Source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (M USD) 2016 USD 27,440 2016 USD 27,420 www.worldbank.org/en/country 
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical Source* USG or International Statistical Source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country (M USD, stock positions) 2016 USD 117 2016 USD 159 BEA data available at
http://bea.gov/international/direct_
investment_multinational_
companies_comprehensive_data.htm
 
Host country’s FDI in the United States (M USD, stock positions) N/A
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP N/A 4.2 N/A 5.7 N/A

*Host country statistical data source: Central Bank of Paraguay
Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI

Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data
From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)
Inward Direct Investment Outward Direct Investment
Total Inward 320.308 100% Total Outward N/A 100%
USA #1 117.194 36% N/A
Luxemburg #2 61.700 19%
Guatemala #3 50.064 16%
United Kingdom #4 35.018 11%
Hong Kong #5 25.396 8%
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment

According to the latest, June 2017, Coordinated Portfolio Investment Survey Reporters, this information is not available for Paraguay.

Singapore

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

Singapore maintains a heavily trade-dependent economy characterized by an open investment regime, with some licensing restrictions in the financial services, professional services, and media sectors. The World Bank’s Doing Business 2017 report ranked Singapore as the world’s second-easiest country in which to do business. The 2017-2018 Global Competitiveness Report ranks Singapore as the third-most competitive economy globally. The 2004 USSFTA expanded U.S. market access in goods, services, investment, and government procurement, enhanced intellectual property protection, and provided for cooperation in promoting labor rights and the environment.

The Government of Singapore (GOS) is strongly committed to maintaining a free market, but it also actively plans Singapore’s economic development, including through an extensive network of government-linked corporations (GLCs). As of January 2018, the top four Singapore-listed GLCs accounted for 14.3 percent of total capitalization of the Singapore Exchange (SGX). Some observers have criticized the dominant role of GLCs in the domestic economy, arguing that it has displaced or suppressed private sector entrepreneurship and investment.

Singapore’s legal framework and public policies are generally favorable toward foreign investors. Foreign investors are not required to enter into joint ventures or cede management control to local interests, and local and foreign investors are subject to the same basic laws. Apart from regulatory requirements in some sectors (reference Limits on National Treatment and Other Restrictions), the government screens investment proposals with the purpose of determining eligibility for various incentive regimes. Singapore places no restrictions on reinvestment or repatriation of earnings or capital. The judicial system, which includes international arbitration and mediation centers and a commercial court, upholds the sanctity of contracts, and decisions are generally considered to be transparent and effectively enforced.

Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EDB) is the lead investment promotion agency that facilitates foreign investment into Singapore (https://www.edb.gov.sg ), assists companies in setting up business in Singapore, and provides incentives including grants, allowances, awards, tax exemptions, and reduced tax rates for investments in certain sectors or categories (https://www.edb.gov.sg/content/edb/en/why-singapore/ready-to-invest/incentives-for-businesses.html ).

The GOS maintains close and continuous engagement with investors through the EDB, which provides feedback to other government agencies to ensure that infrastructure and public services remain efficient and cost-competitive.

Exceptions to Singapore’s general openness to foreign investment exist in telecommunications, broadcasting, the domestic news media, financial services, legal and accounting services, and ports and airports sectors, as well as property ownership. Under Singapore law, Articles of Incorporation may include shareholding limits that restrict ownership in corporations by foreign persons.

Telecommunications

Since 2000, the implementation of the Telecoms Competition Code has allowed foreign and domestic companies seeking to provide facilities-based (fixed line or mobile) or services-based (local, international, and callback) telecommunications services to apply for licenses to operate and deploy telecommunication systems and services. Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) – a GLC that is majority owned by Temasek, a state-owned holding company with the Singapore Minister for Finance as its sole shareholder – faces competition in all market segments. However, its main competitors, M1 and StarHub, are also GLCs. In December 2016, Australian telco TPG Telecom became the first foreign-based mobile network operator and non-GLC to be awarded spectrum rights to provide nationwide mobile coverage.

As of March 2018, Singapore has 69 facilities-based (group) and 264 services-based (individual) operators. Since 2007, SingTel has been exempted from dominant licensee obligations for the residential and commercial portions of the retail international telephone services. SingTel is also exempted from dominant licensee obligations for wholesale international telephone services, international managed data, international IP transit, leased satellite bandwidth, terrestrial international private leased circuit, and backhaul services.

In April 2017, Singapore held a General Spectrum Auction for mobile airwaves, the largest such auction in 16 years, allocating additional blocks of spectrum to accommodate increasing demand for mobile data services. Singtel, Starhub, M1, and TPG paid a combined total of US$870 million (S$1.15billion) in this heavily bid auction for additional frequency bands.

Singapore’s Info-communication Media Development Authority (IMDA) operates as both the regulatory agency and the investment promotion agency for the country’s telecommunications sector. IMDA conducts public consultations on major policy reviews and provides decisions on policy changes to relevant companies.

Media

The local free-to-air broadcasting, cable and newspaper sectors are effectively closed to foreign firms. Section 44 of the Broadcasting Act restricts foreign equity ownership of companies broadcasting to the Singapore domestic market to 49 percent or less, although the Act does allow for exceptions. Individuals cannot hold more than five percent of the ordinary shares issued by a broadcasting company without the government’s prior approval. The Newspaper and Printing Presses Act restricts equity ownership (local or foreign) to five percent per shareholder and requires that directors be Singapore citizens. Newspaper companies must issue two classes of shares, ordinary and management, with the latter available only to Singapore citizens or corporations approved by the government. Holders of management shares have an effective veto over selected board decisions.

Singapore comprehensively regulates content across all major media outlets. The government also controls the distribution, importation and sale of any foreign newspaper, and significantly restricts freedom of the press, having curtailed or banned the circulation of some foreign publications. Singapore’s leaders have also brought defamation suits against foreign publishers. Such suits have resulted in the foreign publishers issuing apologies and paying damages. Seventeen publications remain prohibited under the Undesirable Publications Act, which restricts the import, sale and circulation of publications that the Government considers contrary to public interest. Examples include pornographic magazines and publications by banned religious groups. A ban on 240 publications, ranging from decades-old anti-colonial and communist material to adult interest content, was last lifted on November 25, 2015 following a routine review by the Media Development Authority.

Singaporeans generally face few restrictions on the internet. However, the IMDA has blocked various websites containing objectionable material, such as pornography and racist and religious hatred sites. Online news websites that report regularly on Singapore and have a significant reach are individually licensed, which requires these sites to submit a bond of USD 40,000 (SGD 50,000) and to adhere to new requirements to remove prohibited content within 24 hours of notification from IMDA. Some view this regulation as a way to censor online critics of the government. In a high-profile case in 2016, the government charged and sentenced to 10 months imprisonment a foreign operator of an online media news site for sedition on the grounds of generating ill will and hostility.

Additional content regulations on “deliberate online falsehoods” transmitted via print and online media are under consideration by the Singapore government, with public consultations held in early 2018 and the subsequent establishment of a Parliament-appointed Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods, which will provide further recommendations on this matter to Parliament.

Pay-Television

MediaCorp TV is the only free-to-air TV broadcaster and is owned 100% by the government via Temasek Holdings (Temasek). Pay-TV providers StarHub Cable Vision (SCV) and SingNet are wholly owned subsidiaries of StarHub and SingTel, respectively. Free-to-air radio broadcasters are mainly government-owned, with MediaCorp Radio Singapore being the largest operator. BBC World Services is the only foreign free-to-air radio broadcaster in Singapore.

To rectify the high degree of content fragmentation in the Singapore pay-TV market, and shift the focus of competition from an exclusivity-centric strategy to other aspects such as service differentiation and competitive packaging, the MDA implemented cross-carriage measures in 2011 requiring pay TV companies designated by MDA to be Receiving Qualified Licensees (RQL) – currently SingTel and StarHub – to cross carry content subject to exclusive carriage provisions. Correspondingly, Supplying Qualified Licensees (SQLs) with an exclusive contract for a channel are required to share that content with other RQL pay TV companies. Content providers consider the measures an unnecessary interference in a competitive market that would deny content holders the ability to negotiate freely in the marketplace, and an interference with their ability to manage and protect their intellectual property. More common content is now available across the different pay-TV platforms, and the operators are beginning to differentiate themselves by originating their own content, offering subscribed content online via PCs and tablet computers, and delivering content via fiber networks.

Banking and Finance

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) regulates all banking activities as provided for under the Banking Act. Singapore maintains legal distinctions between foreign and local banks, and the type of license (i.e., full service, wholesale, and offshore) held by foreign commercial banks. As of March 2018, 29 foreign full service licensees, 92 wholesale licensees, and 2 offshore licensees operated in Singapore. An additional 30 merchant banks are licensed to conduct corporate finance, investment banking and other fee-based activities. Offshore and wholesale banks are not allowed to operate Singapore Dollar retail banking activities. Only Full Banks and “Qualifying Full Bank” (QFBs) can operate Singapore dollar retail banking activities, but are subject to restrictions on the number of places of business, ATMs and ATM networks. Additional QFB licenses may be granted to a subset of full banks, which provides greater branching privileges and greater access to the retail market than other full banks. As of March 2018, there are 10 banks operating QFB licenses.

Except in retail banking, Singapore laws do not distinguish operationally between foreign and domestic banks. However, all banks in Singapore are required to maintain a Domestic Banking Unit (DBU) and an Asian Currency Unit (ACU), separating international and domestic banking operations from each other. Transactions in Singapore dollars can be booked only in the DBU whereas transactions in foreign currency are typically booked in the ACU. The ACU is an accounting unit, which the banks use to book all their foreign currency transactions conducted in the Asian Dollar Market (ADM). This enables additional prudential requirements to be imposed on bank’s domestic businesses in Singapore, while also avoiding undue restrictions on the offshore activities of banks. In September 2015, MAS concluded a consultation round which proposed for the removal of the requirement for two distinct accounting units as well as changes in the associated regulatory framework. MAS has initiated a 30-month implementation timeline from February 2017 for the removal of the DBU-ACU divide, which will be aligned with the revisions made to MAS 610 (Submission of Statistics and Returns).

The government initiated a banking liberalization program in 1999 to ease restrictions on foreign banks and has supplemented this with phased-in provisions under the USSFTA, including removal of a 40-percent ceiling on foreign ownership of local banks and a 20-percent aggregate foreign shareholding limit on finance companies. The Minister in charge of the Monetary Authority of Singapore must approve the merger or takeover of a local bank or financial holding company, as well as the acquisition of voting shares in such institutions above specific thresholds of 5 percent, 12 percent or 20 percent of shareholdings.

Although the GOS has lifted the formal ceilings on foreign ownership of local banks and finance companies, the approval of controllers of local banks ensures that this control rests with individuals or groups whose interests are aligned with the long-term interests of the Singapore economy and Singapore’s national interests. Of the 29 full service licenses granted to foreign banks, four have gone to U.S. banks. U.S. financial institutions enjoy phased-in benefits under the USSFTA. Since 2006, U.S.-licensed full service banks that are also QFBs have been able to operate at an unlimited number of locations (branches or off-premises ATMs) versus 25 for non-U.S. full service foreign banks with QFB status. U.S. and foreign full-service banks with QFB status can freely relocate existing branches and share ATMs among themselves. They can also provide electronic funds transfer and point-of-sale debit services, and accept services related to Singapore’s compulsory pension fund. In 2007, Singapore lifted the quota on new licenses for U.S. wholesale banks.

Locally and non-locally incorporated subsidiaries of U.S. full-service banks with QFB status can apply for access to local ATM networks. However, no U.S. bank has come to a commercial agreement to gain such access. Despite liberalization, U.S. and other foreign banks in the domestic retail-banking sector still face barriers. Under the enhanced QFB program launched in 2012, MAS requires QFBs it deems systemically significant to incorporate locally. If those locally incorporated entities are deemed “significantly rooted” in Singapore, with a majority of Singaporean or permanent resident members, Singapore may grant approval for an additional 25 places of business, of which up to 10 may be branches. Local retail banks do not face similar constraints on customer service locations or access to the local ATM network. As noted above, U.S. banks are not subject to quotas on service locations under the terms of the USSFTA. Holders of credit cards issued locally by foreign banks or other financial institutions sometimes cannot access their accounts through the local ATM networks. They are also unable to access their accounts for cash withdrawals, transfers or bill payments at ATMs operated by banks other than those operated by their own bank or at foreign banks’ shared ATM network. Nevertheless, full-service foreign banks have made significant inroads in other retail banking areas, with substantial market share in products like credit cards and personal and housing loans.

In 2017, MAS solicited public feedback on a proposed retail payments regulatory framework, which is intended to streamline and expand the regulation of payments under the proposed Payment Services Bill. The Bill will require licensing of entities that carry out account issuance, domestic money transfer, remittance, merchant acquisition, electronic-money issuance, virtual currency, and money-changing services, and targets specific AML/CFT, user protection, and technology risks. The proposed Bill provides statutory powers for MAS to mandate any Major Payment Institution to participate in a common platform, and/or to adopt common standards to achieve interoperability of payment systems, and to mandate that a payment system operator allow third parties to access its system for interoperability purposes. The Bill proposed that an e-money issuer (a separate category to virtual currencies) with a float above $3.7 million will need to safeguard the float with a full bank, or other means approved by MAS which protects the funds, and funds in the e-wallet that are for P2P transfers will be protected by statute (with carve-out provisions). It also would restrict the maximum personal e-wallet load capacity at $3730. As of March 2018, this legislation is still pending and under review.

Singapore has no trading restrictions on foreign-owned stockbrokers. There is no cap on the aggregate investment by foreigners regarding the paid-up capital of dealers that are members of the SGX. Direct registration of foreign mutual funds is allowed, provided MAS approves the prospectus and the fund. The USSFTA has relaxed conditions that foreign asset managers must meet in order to offer products under the government-managed compulsory pension fund (Central Provident Fund Investment Scheme).

Legal Services

The Legal Services Regulatory Authority (LSRA) under the Ministry of Law oversees the regulation, licensing, and compliance of all law practice entities and the registration of foreign lawyers in Singapore. Foreign law firms with a licensed Foreign Law Practice (FLP) may offer the full range of legal services in foreign law and international law, but cannot practice Singapore Law, except in the context of international commercial arbitration. To practice Singapore law, Foreign Law Practices require either a Qualifying Foreign Law Practice (QFLP) license, a Joint Law Venture (JLV) with a Singapore Law Practice (SLP), or a Formal Law Alliance (FLA) with a SLP. The vast majority of Singapore’s 126 foreign law firms operate FLPs, while QFLPs, JLVs and FLAs each number in the single digits.

The QFLP licenses allow foreign law firms to practice in permitted areas of Singapore law, which excludes constitutional and administrative law, conveyancing, criminal law, family law, succession law, and trust law. As of March 2018, there are nine QFLPs in Singapore, including five U.S. firms. In December 2017, the Ministry of Law announced the deferral to 2020 of the decision to renew the licenses of four QFLPs, which were set to expire in 2018 because the respective performances have fallen short of the initial commitments made in 2012. Decisions on the renewal considers the firm’s quantitative and qualitative performance, such as the value of work that the Singapore office will generate, the extent to which the Singapore office will function as the firm’s headquarter for the region, the firm’s contributions to Singapore, and the firm’s proposal for the new license period.

A Joint Law Venture is a collaboration between a Foreign Law Practice and Singapore Law Practice, which may be constituted as a partnership or company. The Director of Legal Services in the Legal Services Regulatory Authority (LSRA) will consider all the relevant circumstances including the proposed structure and its overall suitability to achieve the objectives for which Joint law Ventures are permitted to be established. U.S. and foreign attorneys are allowed to represent parties in arbitration without the need for a Singapore attorney to be present. There is no clear indication on the percentage of shares that each JLV partner may hold in the JLV.

With the exception of law degrees from a handful of designated U.S., British, Australian, and New Zealand universities, no foreign university law degrees are recognized for purposes of admission to practice law in Singapore. Under the USSFTA, Singapore recognizes law degrees from Harvard University, Columbia University, New York University, and the University of Michigan. Singapore will admit to the Singapore professional bar- a citizen or permanent-resident law school graduates of those designated universities who are ranked among the top 70 percent of their graduating class or have obtained lower-second class honors (under the British system).

Engineering and Architectural Services

Engineering and architectural firms can be 100 percent foreign-owned. Engineers and architects are required to register with the Professional Engineers Board and the Architects Board, respectively, to practice in Singapore. All applicants (both local and foreign) must have at least four years of practical experience in engineering or architectural works, and pass written and oral examinations set by the respective Board.

Accounting and Tax Services

The major international accounting firms operate in Singapore. Registration as a public accountant is required for appointment as an auditor of financial statements in Singapore, although registration as a public accountant is not required to provide other accountancy services, such as accounting, tax and corporate advisory work. All entities that provide public accountancy services must be under the control and management of partner(s) who are public accountants residing in Singapore. If the firm has two partners, at least one must be a public accountant. If the firm has more than two partners, two-thirds of the partners must be public accountants residing in Singapore. Only public accountants who are members of the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA) of Singapore and registered with Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority may practice in Singapore.

Energy

Singapore completed efforts to liberalize its gas market with the amendment of the Gas Act and implementation of a Gas Network Code in 2008, which were designed to give gas retailers and importers direct access to the onshore gas pipeline infrastructure. However, key parts of the local gas market, such as town gas retailing, domestic gas pipelines and access to offshore gas pipelines, remain controlled by incumbent Singaporean firms. Singapore has sought to grow its supply of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), and BG Singapore Gas Marketing Pte Ltd (acquired by Royal Dutch Shell in February 2016) was appointed in 2008 as the first aggregator with an exclusive franchise to import LNG to be sold in its re-gasified form in Singapore.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Foreign and local entities may readily establish, operate, and dispose of their own enterprises in Singapore, and there is no overarching screening process for foreign investment. A foreigner who wants to set up a company in Singapore is required to appoint a locally resident director. The foreigner can continue to reside outside Singapore. Foreigners who wish to incorporate a company and be present in Singapore to manage its operations are strongly advised to seek approval from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) before registration. Except for representative offices (where foreign firms maintain a local representative but do not conduct commercial transactions in Singapore), there are no restrictions on carrying out remunerative activities.

There are no general, economy-wide limits on foreign ownership or control. All businesses in Singapore must be registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority. Foreign investors can operate their businesses in one of the following forms: sole proprietorship, limited partnership, limited liability partnership, incorporated company, foreign company branch or representative office. Stricter disclosure requirements were passed in March 2017 which require foreign companies registered in Singapore to maintain public registers of their members, while locally incorporated and foreign companies will be required to maintain registers of controllers (individuals or legal entities with more than 25% interest or control of the company), aimed at preventing money laundering.

Exceptions to Singapore’s general openness to foreign investment exist in telecommunications, broadcasting, the domestic news media, financial services, legal services, public accounting services, ports and airports, and property ownership. Under Singapore law, Articles of Incorporation may include shareholding limits that restrict ownership in corporations by foreign persons.

Singapore does not maintain an investment screening mechanism for inbound foreign investment, and there are no reports of U.S. investors being especially disadvantaged or singled out relative to other foreign investors.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

Singapore underwent a trade policy review with the World Trade Organization (WTO) in July 2016. No major policy recommendations were raised. This was the country’s only IPR review in the past three years. (https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/tp443_e.htm )

The OECD released a peer review report in March 2018 on Singapore under Article 25 of the OECD Model Tax Convention, which commits countries to endeavor to resolve disputes related to the interpretation and application of tax treaties. (http://www.oecd.org/countries/singapore/making-dispute-resolution-more-effective-map-peer-review-report-singapore-stage-1-9789264290488-en.htm )

Business Facilitation

Singapore’s online business registration process is clear and efficient, and allows foreign companies to register. All businesses must be registered with the Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) through the website (https://www.acra.gov.sg/home/ ), including any individual, firm or corporation that carries out business for a foreign company. Applications are typically processed immediately after the application fee is paid, but may take between 14 days to 2 months if the application needs to be referred to another agency for approval or review. The process of establishing a foreign-owned limited liability company (LLC) in Singapore is among the fastest of the countries surveyed by IAB.

ACRA provides a single window for business registration, however additional regulatory approvals (e.g. licensing or visa requirements) are obtained via individual applications to the respective Ministries/Statutory Boards. Additional information and business support on registering a branch of a foreign company is available through the EDB (https://www.edb.gov.sg/en/how-we-help/setting-up.html ). Furthermore, GuideMeSingapore by corporate services firm Hawskford provides details on setting up a business in Singapore. (https://www.guidemesingapore.com/ )

Foreign companies may lease or buy privately or publicly held land in Singapore, though there are some restrictions on foreign ownership of property. Foreign companies are free to open and maintain bank accounts in foreign currency. There is no minimum paid-in capital requirement, but at least one subscriber share must be issued for valid consideration at incorporation.

At GER (ger.co), Singapore’s online business registration process scores 7/10 in Online Single Windows (https://www.bizfile.gov.sg/ ), and 1.5/10 in Information Portals (https://www.smeportal.sg/content/smeportal/en/home.html ). In particular, the information portal website fared poorly in guiding users in what to do, how to do it, and user orientation.

Business facilitation processes provide for fair and equal treatment of women and minorities, and there are no mechanisms that provide special assistance to women and minorities.

Outward Investment

Singapore places no restrictions on domestic investors investing abroad. The host government promotes outward investment through Enterprise Singapore, a statutory board under the Ministry of Trade and Industry. It provides market information, business contacts, and financial assistance and grants for internationalizing companies. While it has a global reach and runs overseas centers in major cities across the world, a large share of its overseas centers are located in major trading, investment partners, and regional markets like China, India and ASEAN.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

Property rights and interests are enforced in Singapore. Residents have access to mortgages and liens, with reliable recording of properties. In the 2017 World Bank Doing Business Report, Singapore ranks second in the world in enforcing contracts and number 19 in registering property.

The Residential Property Act regulates foreign ownership of property, land, and housing in Singapore. Foreigners are not allowed to purchase public housing (HDB) in Singapore, and prior approval from the Singapore Land Authority is required to purchase landed residential property and vacant residential land. Foreigners are allowed to purchase private sector housing (condominiums or any unit within a building) without the need to obtain prior approval, however they are not allowed to acquire all the apartments within a building or all the units in an approved condominium apartment without prior approval. These restrictions apply to foreign companies.

There are no restrictions on foreign ownership of industrial and commercial real estate. In December 2011, the GOS enacted an additional effective 10 percent tax, or Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD), on foreigners who purchase homes in Singapore. In January 2013, the GOS further raised the ABSD to 15 percent; however, U.S. citizens are accorded national treatment under the FTA, meaning only second and subsequent purchases of residential property will be subject to 7 and 10 percent ABSD, equivalent to Singaporean citizens.

According to mass media and information firm Thomson Reuters, the law and associated regulatory regime in Singapore provides a developed framework in which securitization transactions can be undertaken. The availability of covered bond legislation under MAS Notice 648 has provided an incentive for Singapore financial institutions to issue covered bonds. Under Notice 648, only a bank incorporated in Singapore may issue covered bonds. The three main Singapore banks, DBS, OCBC and UOB, all have in place covered bond programs, with the majority of issues being private placements. The banking industry has made suggestions to allow the use of covered bonds in repo transactions with the central bank and to lift the encumbrance limit, currently at four percent.

(http://www.mas.gov.sg/regulations-and-financial-stability/regulations-guidance-and-licensing/commercial-banks/notices/2013/notice-648-issuance-of-covered-bonds-by-banks-incorporated-in-singapore.aspx )

Intellectual Property Rights

Singapore has developed one of the strongest intellectual property rights (IPR) regimes in Asia and has brought its IPR laws in line with international standards. However, some concerns remain in certain areas such as business software piracy, online piracy and enforcement.

The Patents (Amendment) Act will close the foreign route for examination and granting a patent based on a prior grant by a foreign patent office, and only use the more stringent procedure beginning on January 1, 2020. All patent applications must be fully examined by Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) to ensure that all granted patents fully satisfy Singapore’s patentability criteria. The Registered Designs (Amendment) Act broadens the scope of registered designs to include virtual designs and include color as a design feature; and will stipulate the default owner of designs to be the designer of a commissioned design, rather than the commissioning party.

The USSFTA ensures that government agencies will not grant regulatory approvals to patent- infringing products, but Singapore does allow parallel imports. Under the Patents Act, with regards to pharmaceutical products, the patent owner has the right to bring an action to stop an importer of “grey market goods” from importing the patent owner’s patented product, provided that the product has not previously been sold or distributed in Singapore, the importation results in a breach of contract between the proprietor of the patent and any person licensed by the proprietor of the patent to distribute the product outside Singapore and the importer has knowledge of such.

The USSFTA ensures protection of test data and trade secrets submitted to the government for regulatory approval purposes. Disclosure of such information is prohibited. Such data may not be used for approval of the same or similar products without the consent of the party who submitted the data for a period of five years from the date of approval of the pharmaceutical product and ten years from the date of approval of an agricultural chemical. Singapore has no specific legislation concerning trade secrets. Instead, it protects investors’ commercially valuable proprietary information under common law by the Law of Confidence. U.S. industry has expressed concern that this provision is inadequate.

Singapore is a member of the WTO and a party to the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). It is a signatory to other international intellectual property rights agreements, including the Paris Convention, the Berne Convention, the Patent Cooperation Treaty, the Madrid Protocol, and the Budapest Treaty. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Secretariat opened a regional office in Singapore in 2005 (http://www.wipo.int/about-wipo/en/offices/singapore/ ). Amendments to the Trademark Act, which took effect in January 2007, fulfill Singapore’s obligations in WIPO’s revised Treaty on the Law of Trademarks.

Singapore ranked 9th out of 50 in the world in the 2018 U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s International IP Index. The index noted that Singapore’s key strengths include an advanced national IP framework, and efforts to accelerate patent examination and grants. Key weaknesses include high level of software piracy for a high-income economy and lack of transparency and data on customs seizures of IP-infringing goods.

Singapore does not publicly report statistics on seizures of counterfeit goods, and does not score highly on enforcement of physical counterfeit goods, online sales of counterfeit goods or digital online piracy, according to the 2018 U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s International IP Index. Singapore is not listed in USTR’s Special 301 report, or the notorious market report.

8. Responsible Business Conduct

The awareness and implementation of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Singapore has been increasing since the formation of the Global Compact Network Singapore (GCNS) under the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) network, with the goals of encouraging companies to adopt sustainability principles related to human and labor rights, environmental conservation, and anti-corruption. GCNS facilitates exchanges, conducts research, and provides training in Singapore to build capacity in areas including sustainability reporting, supply chain management, ISO 26000, and measuring and reporting carbon emissions.

KPMG’s 2017 Corporate Responsibility Reporting survey showed that 84 percent of the largest companies in Singapore are fulfilling their reporting responsibilities, which is higher than the global average at 72 percent. KPMG’s survey also noted that climate and environment risks are not adequately recognized or addressed by Singapore companies. Only 17 percent of Singapore companies have set carbon-reduction targets, lower than the global rate of 50 percent. A 2017 World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) – survey showed a lack of transparency by Singapore companies in disclosing palm oil sources. However, awareness is growing and the Southeast Asia Alliance for Sustainable Palm Oil (Saspo) has received additional pledges in 2018 by companies to adhere to standards for palm oil sourcing set by the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO),

In June 2016, the Singapore Exchange (SGX) introduced mandatory, comply-or-explain, sustainability reporting requirements for all listed companies, including material environmental, social and governance practices, from the financial year ending Dec 31, 2017 onwards. The Singapore Environmental Council (SEC) operates a green labeling scheme, which endorses environmentally-friendly products, numbering over 3,000 from 29 countries. The Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) issued voluntary guidelines to banks in Singapore in October 2015 encouraging them to adopt sustainable lending practices, including the integration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles into their lending and business practices. Singapore-based banks have been listed in a 2018 Market Forces report on contributions to regional coal-financing.

Singapore has not developed a National Action Plan on business and human rights, but promotes responsible business practices, and encourages foreign and local enterprises to follow generally accepted CSR principles. The government does not explicitly factor responsible business conduct (RBC) policies into its procurement decisions.

The host government effectively and fairly enforces domestic laws with regard to human rights, labor rights, consumer protection, environmental protections, and other laws/regulations intended to protect individuals from adverse business impacts. The private sector’s impact on migrant workers and their rights, and domestic migrant workers in particular (due to the latter’s exemption from the Employment Act which stipulates the rights of workers), remains an area of advocacy by civil society groups. The government has taken incremental steps to improve the channels of redress and enforcement of workers’ rights; however, key concerns about legislative protections remain unaddressed for domestic migrant workers. The government generally encourages businesses to comply with international standards. However, there are no specific mentions of the host government encouraging adherence to the OECD Due Diligence Guidance, or supply chain due diligence measures.

The Companies Act principally governs companies in Singapore. Key areas of corporate governance covered under the act include separation of ownership from management, fiduciary duties of directors, shareholder remedies, and capital maintenance rules. Limited liability partnerships are governed by the Limited Liability Partnership Act. Certain provisions in other statutes such as the Securities and Futures Act are also relevant to companies. Singapore has a private sector-led Council on Corporate Disclosure and Governance to implement the country’s Code of Corporate Governance. Compliance with the Code is not mandatory but listed companies are required under the Singapore Exchange Listing Rules to disclose their corporate governance practices and explain deviations from the Code in their annual reports. Proposed measures to streamline the Code of Corporate Governance were released for public consultation in Jan 2018, with measures to strengthen director independence, enhance board diversity, increase transparency of remuneration practices, and to clarify the comply-or-explain regime to facilitate meaningful communication with stakeholders. (https://www.singaporelawwatch.sg/About-Singapore-Law/Commercial-Law/ch-16-singapore-company-law )

There are independent NGOs promoting and monitoring RBC. Those monitoring or advocating around RBC are generally able to do their work freely within most areas of RBC. However, labor unions are tightly controlled and legal rights to strike are granted with restrictions under the Trade Disputes Act.

Singapore has no oil, gas, or mineral resources and is not a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). A small sector processes and rare minerals, and complies with responsible supply chains and conflict mineral principles. Under the new AML/CFT framework introduced in 2014, it is a requirement for Corporate Service Providers to develop and implement internal policies, procedures and controls to comply with Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations on combating of money laundering and terrorism financing.

9. Corruption

Singapore actively enforces its strong anti-corruption laws and corruption is not cited as a concern for foreign investors. Transparency International’s 2017 Corruption Perception index ranks Singapore 6th of 180 countries globally, the highest ranking for an Asian country. The Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA), and the Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act provide the legal basis for government action by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), which is the only agency authorized under the PCA to investigate corruption offences and other related offences. These laws cover acts of corruption within Singapore as well as those committed by Singaporeans abroad. When cases of corruption are uncovered, whether in the public or private sector, the government deals with them firmly, swiftly, and publicly. The anti-corruption laws extend to family members of officials, and to political parties. The CPIB is effective and non-discriminatory. Singapore is generally perceived to be one of the least corrupt countries in Asia and the world, and corruption is not identified as an obstacle to FDI in Singapore. Singapore is a signatory to the UN Anticorruption Convention, but not the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.

Resources to Report Corruption

Contact at government agency or agencies are responsible for combating corruption:
Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau
2 Lengkok Bahru, Singapore 159047
+65 6270 0141
info@cpib.gov.sg

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy

Host Country Statistical Source

USG or International Statistical Source

USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other

Economic Data

Year

Amount

Year

Amount

Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD)

2016

$325,281

2016

$296,976

www.worldbank.org/en/country 

http://www.singstat.gov.sg/
statistics/
browse-by-theme/national-accounts
 

Foreign Direct Investment

Host Country Statistical Source

USG or International Statistical Source

USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other

U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions)

2016

$200,355

2016

$258,864

BEA data available at
http://bea.gov/international/direct_
investment_multinational_
companies_comprehensive_data.htm
 

https://www.singstat.gov.sg/statistics/browse-by-theme/investment 

Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions)

2016

$23,217

2016

$23,933

BEA data available at http://bea.gov/international/direct_
investment_multinational_
companies_comprehensive_data.htm
 

https://www.singstat.gov.sg/
statistics/browse-by-theme/investment
 

Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP

2016

7.1%

2016

8.1%

N/A

Note: Exchange rate of S$1.3156/US$1 used for conversion.

*Source: Ministry of Trade and Industry and Department of Statistics, Government of Singapore.
IMF’s Coordinated Direct Investment Survey (CDIS) site does not list outward direct investment data for Singapore. The latest inward direct investment data is from 2016. Host country data lists U.S. investment at US$212.5 billion, about US$38 billion in excess of IMF data. Host country data lists tax havens British Virgin Islands in second place at $90.2 billion, $30.6 billion in excess of IMF data, and Cayman Islands in third place at $80.9 billion, $21.4 billion in excess of IMF data. Japan and Netherlands are at 4th and 5th place respectively in host country data, and investment amounts are consistent with IMF statistics.

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI

Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data
From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)
Inward Direct Investment Outward Direct Investment
Total Inward Amount 100% Total Outward Amount 100%
United States $174,998 18% China $93,900 7%
Japan $78,080 8% Luxembourg $48,829 4%
Netherlands $66,767 7% Hong Kong $40,121 3%
British Virgin Islands $59,606 6% Indonesia $40,023 3%
Cayman Islands $59,494 6% United Kingdom $33,247 2%
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

Source for Outward Direct Investment data: Singapore Department of Statistics
Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment

In IMF data, $274 billion, or 26.8 percent of total portfolio investment are from unspecified sources (including confidential), of which $102 billion (19.7 percent) of equity and investment funds, and $122 billion (24.1 percent) of debt. The IMF data are consistent with host country data.

Portfolio Investment Assets
Top Five Partners (Millions, US Dollars)
Total Equity Securities Total Debt Securities
All Countries Amount 100% All Countries Amount 100% All Countries Amount 100%
United States $312,110 30.5% United States 129,463 25.0% United States 182,647 36.0%
China $94,603 9.2% China $73,422 14.2% China $21,180 4.2%
India $47,381 4.6% Japan $30,590 5.9% United Kingdom $19,363 3.8%
Republic of Korea $37,303 3.6% India $28,143 5.4% India $19,238 3.8%
United Kingdom $36,989 3.6% Republic of Korea $23,169 4.5% Germany $18,091 3.6%
Investment Climate Statements
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The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future