2. Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation Treaties
Andorra has bilateral agreements with France (2003), Spain (2003), and Portugal (2007). No bilateral investment treaty exists between Andorra and the United States.
Andorra has signed Tax Information Exchange agreements for the exchange of fiscal information with 24 countries. All those agreements have been ratified and are in force.
In 2014, Andorra became the 48th signatory to the OECD Declaration on Automatic Exchange of Information in Tax Matters, which commits countries to end bank secrecy for tax evasion purposes. Andorra is a member of the OECD’s Inclusive Framework base erosion profit shifting (BEPS). Additionally, Andorra ratified the Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting, which came into effect January 1, 2022. Andorra signed a Non-Double Taxation agreement with France, Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Malta, Cyprus, United Arab Emirates, San Marino, and Hungary and is currently negotiating other such agreements.
5. Protection of Property Rights
The constitution guarantees the right to private ownership for citizens and residents. Both domestic and foreign private entities now have the right to establish and own business enterprises.
Andorran law protects property rights with enforcement carried out at the administrative and judicial levels. Foreign investments for the purchase of property are possible in Andorra, subject to prior authorization. There is a four percent asset-transfer tax.
Secured property loans are available through the Andorran banking sector. The Andorran Financial Authority (AFA) oversees the banking sector, including mortgages ( https://www.afa.ad/en ).
Andorra joined the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 1994 and is party to the Paris Convention, the Berne Convention, as well as the Rome Convention since 2004. Andorra is not a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) but holds observer status. The country’s intellectual property rights (IPR) regime is not in compliance with the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
Protection of IPR in Andorra is weak. The legal framework includes the Trademarks Act of May 1, 1995, the Law 26/2014 on Patents of October 30 the Law on Authors’ and Neighboring Rights of June 1999, and Law 23/2011, of December 29, 2011, on the Creation of the Society of Collective Management of Copyright and Neighboring Rights.
In 2012, the Society for the Administration of Authors’ Rights (SDADV) was created to manage the economic rights, neighboring rights, and the interests of copyright holders. Right holders can choose whether to participate in this voluntary collective arrangement though in some cases, the collective arrangement system is compulsory.
Businesses seeking to register a trademark or patent should contact the Andorran Trademarks Office and Patents Office.
Trademarks and Patents Office of the Principality of AndorraMinistry of EconomyEdifici Administratiu del Prat del RullCami de la Grau s/nAD 500 Andorra La VellaTel. (376) 875 600Email: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.ompa.ad/
Andorra is not listed in the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report nor included in the Notorious Markets List.
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/ .
5. Protection of Property Rights
Strong legal frameworks protect property rights in Australia and operate to police corruption. Mortgages are commercially available, and foreigners are allowed to buy real property subject to certain registration and approval requirements. Property lending may be securitized, and Australia has one of the most highly developed securitization sectors in the world. Beyond the private sector property market, securitization products are being developed to assist local and state government financing. Australia has no legislation specifically relating to securitization, although issuers are governed by a range of other financial sector legislation and disclosure requirements.
Australia generally provides strong intellectual property rights (IPR) protection and enforcement through legislation that, among other things, criminalizes copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting. Australia is not listed in USTR’s Special 301 report or on USTR’s Notorious Markets report.
Enforcement of counterfeit goods is overseen by the Australian Department of Home Affairs through the Notice of Objection Scheme, which allows the Australian Border Force to seize goods suspected of being counterfeit. Penalties for sale or importation of counterfeit goods include fines and up to five years imprisonment.
IP Australia is the responsible agency for administering Australia’s responsibilities and treaties under the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Australia is a member of a range of international treaties developed through WIPO. Australia does not have specific legislation relating to trade secrets, however common law governs information protected through such means as confidentiality agreements or other means of illegally obtaining confidential or proprietary information.
Australia was an active participant in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations and signed ACTA in October 2011. It has not yet ratified the agreement. ACTA would establish an international framework to assist Parties in their efforts to effectively combat the infringement of intellectual property rights, in particular the proliferation of counterfeiting and piracy.
Under the AUSFTA, Australia must notify the holder of a pharmaceutical patent of a request for marketing approval by a third party for a product claimed by that patent. U.S. and Australian pharmaceutical companies have raised concerns that unnecessary delays in this notification process restrict their options for action against third parties that would infringe their patents if granted marketing approval by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). In March 2020 the government recommended changes to the notification process whereby generic product owners must notify the patent holder of an intent to market a new product at the point they lodge an application for evaluation with the TGA. These changes have not been legislated at the time of writing.
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/ .
7. State-Owned Enterprises
In Australia, the term used for a Commonwealth Government State-Owned Enterprise (SOE) is “government business enterprise” (GBE). According to the Department of Finance, there are nine GBEs: two corporate Commonwealth entities and seven Commonwealth companies. (See: https://www.finance.gov.au/resource-management/governance/gbe/ ) Private enterprises are generally allowed to compete with public enterprises under the same terms and conditions with respect to markets, credit, and other business operations, such as licenses and supplies. Public enterprises are not generally accorded material advantages in Australia. Remaining GBEs do not exercise power in a manner that discriminates against or unfairly burdens foreign investors or foreign-owned enterprises.
Australia does not have a formal and explicit national privatization program. Individual state and territory governments may have their own privatization programs. Foreign investors are welcome to participate in any privatization programs subject to the rules and approvals governing foreign investment.
5. Protection of Property Rights
Property rights are enforced by the Civil Code. Mortgages and liens are available, and the property registry system is reliable. Investors and/or duly established commercial organizations with the participation of a foreign investor (investors) have the right to rent plots of land for up to 99 years. According to the Belarusian Land Code, foreign legal persons and individuals are denied land ownership except for land in the Great Stone Industrial Park, which foreign persons can acquire. The 2020 World Bank Doing Business Report ranked Belarus 14th on ease of property registration ( http://www.doingbusiness.org/en/data/exploreeconomies/belarus ).
Belarus has made progress in improving legislation to protect intellectual property rights (IPR) and prosecute violators. However, challenges for effective enforcement include a lack of sufficiently qualified officers. According to information provided by Belarus’ National Center of Intellectual Property, Belarus adopted a law upon Belarus’ accession to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Marrakesh Treaty on facilitating access for the blind and visually impaired persons or people with other disabilities to printed information. Belarus received the status of a full member under this agreement in October 2020. In 2018, the government amended Article 4.5 of the Administrative Code to allow greater prosecution of industrial property and IPR violations. Authorities reported there was one criminal and 89 administrative cases pursued in 2020. No criminal and 178 administrative cases were prosecuted in 2021. In 2020 and in 2021 the National Center of Intellectual Property registered no complaints from U.S. companies or their representatives regarding violations of intellectual property rights.
In July 2021, the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs of July 2, 1999 (the Geneva Act) came into effect in Belarus and the country became the 66th member state to accede to the Geneva Act and became the 75th member of the Hague Union. In November 2021, Belarus adopted an IPR strategy through 2030 defining significant aspects of the country’s IPR system that need to be strengthened. In December 2021, Belarus acceded to the Industrial Design Protection Protocol to the September 9, 1994 Eurasian Patent Convention. The accession is set to come into effect in April 2022.
Belarus was removed from USTR’s Special 301 Report in 2016 and is not included in the Notorious Markets List.
Belarus is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and party to the Bern Convention, the Paris Convention, the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the WIPO Copyright Treaty, and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty, among others. 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/ .
7. State-Owned Enterprises
Although SOEs are outnumbered by private businesses, SOEs dominate the economy in terms of value. According to the Belarusian ministry of taxes and duties, the share of small and medium-sized private enterprises in the revenues of the country’s consolidated budget was 35 percent in 2021, the same as in 2020. Belarus does not consider joint stock companies, even those with 100 percent government ownership of the stocks, to be state-owned and generally refers to them as part of the non-state sector, rendering official government statistics regarding the role of SOEs in the economy misleading. According to media reports, SOEs receive preferential access to government contracts, subsidized credits, and debt forgiveness. While SOEs are generally subject to the same tax burden and tax rebate policies as their private sector competitors, private enterprises do not have the same preferential access to land and raw materials. Since Belarus is not a WTO member, it is not a party to the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA).
The GOB officially claims to welcome “strategic investors,” including foreign investors, and says that any state-owned or state-controlled enterprise can be privatized. However, Belarus’ privatization program is extremely limited in practice as the government only sells enterprises which operate at a loss and in which the state holds a minority share of less than 25 percent. Lukashenka has expressed skepticism of privatization and during the All-Belarusian People’s Assembly in February 2021 claimed privatization in Belarus was only in the interests of his political opposition.
Notably, in April 2020, the government sold its controlling share in Belarus’ fifteenth-largest bank, Paritetbank. Otherwise, there was no privatization of state-controlled companies from 2018 to 2020.
The State Property Committee occasionally organizes and holds privatization auctions. Many of the auctions organized by the State Property Committee have low demand as the government often places strict requirements on privitizations, including preserving or creating jobs, continuing in the same line of work or production, or launching a successful business project within a limited timeframe.
In 2016, Belarusian joint stocks were allowed trans-border placement via issuing depositary receipts, but to date this instrument of attracting investments has not been used in Belarus.