An official website of the United States Government Here's how you know

Official websites use .gov

A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

China

Executive Summary

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is the top global Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) destination after the United States due to its large consumer base and integrated supply chains.  In 2019, China made some modest openings in the financial sector and passed key pieces of legislation, including a new Foreign Investment Law (FIL).  China remains, however, a relatively restrictive investment environment for foreign investors due to restrictions in key economic sectors.  Obstacles to investment include ownership caps and requirements to form joint venture partnerships with local Chinese firms, industrial policies such as Made in China 2025 (MIC 2025), as well as pressures on U.S. firms to transfer technology as a prerequisite to gaining market access.  These restrictions shield Chinese enterprises – especially state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and other enterprises deemed “national champions” – from competition with foreign companies.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 2019 marked the 70th anniversary of its rule, amidst a wave of Hong Kong protests and international concerns regarding forced labor camps in Xinjiang.  Since the CCP 19th Party Congress in 2017, CCP leadership has underscored Chairman Xi Jinping’s leadership and expanded the role of the party in all facets of Chinese life:  cultural, social, military, and economic.  An increasingly assertive CCP has caused concern among the foreign business community about the ability of future foreign investors to make decisions based on commercial and profit considerations, rather than CCP political dictates.

Key investment announcements and new developments in 2019 included:

  • On March 17, 2019, the National People’s Congress passed the new FIL that effectively replaced previous laws governing foreign investment.
  • On June 30, 2019, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) jointly announced the release of China’s three “lists” to guide FDI.  Two “negative lists” identify the industries and economic sectors from which foreign investment is restricted or prohibited based on location, and the third list identifies sectors in which foreign investments are encouraged.  In 2019, some substantial openings were made in China’s financial services sector.
  • The State Council also approved the Regulation on Optimizing the Business Environment and Opinions on Further Improving the Utilization of Foreign Investment, which were intended to assuage foreign investors’ mounting concerns with the pace of economic reforms.

While Chinese pronouncements of greater market access and fair treatment of foreign investment are welcome, details and effective implementation are needed to improve the investment environment and restore investors’ confidence.  As China’s economic growth continues to slow, officially declining to 6.1% in 2019 – the slowest growth rate in nearly three decades – the CCP will need to deepen its economic reforms and implementation.  Moreover, the emergence of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Wuhan, China in December 2019, will place further strain on China’s economic growth and global supply chains.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2019 137 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/
research/cpi/overview
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2019 31 of 190 http://www.doingbusiness.org/
en/rankings
Global Innovation Index 2019 14 of 126 https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/
analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2018 USD116,518 https://apps.bea.gov/international/
factsheet/
World Bank GNI per capita 2018 USD9,460 http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/
NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

3. Legal Regime

Transparency of the Regulatory System

One of China’s WTO accession commitments was to establish an official journal dedicated to the publication of laws, regulations, and other measures pertaining to or affecting trade in goods, services, trade related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPS), and the control of foreign exchange.  Despite mandatory 30-day public comment periods, Chinese ministries continue to post only some draft administrative regulations and departmental rules online, often with a public comment period of less than 30 days.  U.S. businesses operating in China consistently cite arbitrary legal enforcement and the lack of regulatory transparency among the top challenges of doing business in China.  Government agencies often do not make available for public comment and proceed to publish “normative documents” (opinions, circulars, notices, etc.) or other quasi-legal measures to address situations where there is no explicit law or administrative regulation in place.  When Chinese officials claim an assessment or study was made for a law, the methodology of the study and the results are not made available to the public.  As a result, foreign investors face a regulatory system rife with inconsistencies.

In China’s state-dominated economic system, the relationships are often blurred between the CCP, the Chinese government, Chinese business (state- and private-owned), and other Chinese stakeholders.  Foreign-invested enterprises (FIEs) perceive that China prioritizes political goals, industrial policies, and a desire to protect social stability at the expense of foreign investors, fairness, and the rule of law.  The World Bank Global Indicators of Regulatory Governance gave China a composite score of 1.75 out 5 points, attributing China’s relatively low score to the futility of foreign companies appealing administrative authorities’ decisions to the domestic court system; not having easily accessible and updated laws and regulations; the lack of impact assessments conducted prior to issuing new laws; and other concerns about transparency.

For accounting standards, Chinese companies use the Chinese Accounting Standards for Business Enterprises (ASBE) for all financial reporting within mainland China.  Companies listed overseas or in Hong Kong may choose to use ASBE, the International Financial Reporting Standards, or Hong Kong Financial Reporting Standards.

International Regulatory Considerations

As part of its WTO accession agreement, China agreed to notify the WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) of all draft technical regulations.  However, China continues to issue draft technical regulations without proper notification to the TBT Committee.

Legal System and Judicial Independence

The Chinese legal system borrows heavily from continental European legal systems, but with “Chinese characteristics.”  The rules governing commercial activities are found in various laws, regulations, and judicial interpretations, including China’s civil law, contract law, partnership enterprises law, security law, insurance law, enterprises bankruptcy law, labor law, and several interpretations and regulations issued by the Supreme People’s Court (SPC).  While China does not have specialized commercial courts, it has created specialized courts and tribunals for the hearing of intellectual property disputes, including in Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai.  In October 2018, the National People’s Congress approved the establishment of a national SPC appellate tribunal to hear civil and administrative appeals of technically complex intellectual property (IP) cases.

China’s constitution and various laws provide contradictory statements about court independence and the right of judges to exercise adjudicative power free from interference by administrative organs, public organizations, or powerful individuals.  In practice, regulators heavily influence courts, and the Chinese constitution establishes the supremacy of the “leadership of the communist party.”  U.S. companies often avoid challenging administrative decisions or bringing commercial disputes before local courts due to perceptions of futility or government retaliation.

Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment

China’s new investment law, the FIL, was passed on March 2019 and came into force on January 1, 2020, replacing China’s previous foreign investment framework.  The FIL provides a five-year transition period for foreign enterprises established under previous foreign investment laws, after which all foreign enterprises will be subject to the same domestic laws as Chinese companies, such as the Company Law and, where applicable, the Partnership Enterprise Law.  The FIL intends to abolish the case-by-case review and approval system on market access for foreign investment and standardize the regulatory regimes for foreign investment by including the negative list management system, a foreign investment information reporting system, and a foreign investment security review system all under one document.  The FIL also seeks to address common complaints from foreign business and government by explicitly banning forced technology transfers, promising better IPR protection, and establishing a complaint mechanism for investors to report administrative abuses.  However, foreign investors complain that the FIL and its implementing regulations lack substantive guidance, providing Chinese ministries and local officials significant regulatory discretion, including the ability to retaliate against foreign companies.

In addition to the FIL, in 2019, the State Council issued other substantive guidelines and administrative regulations, including:

System for Mergers and Acquisitions of Domestic Enterprises by Foreign Investors (Notice 6);

  • Regulation on Optimizing the Business Environment (Order No. 722); and
  • Opinions on Further Improving the Utilization of Foreign Investment (Opinions 2019).

Other relevant legislation issued by government entities in 2019, include:

Draft legislation issued by other government entities in 2020:

  • Draft Amendments to the Anti-Monopoly Law;

In addition to central government laws and implementation guidelines, ministries and local regulators have issued over 1,000 rules and regulatory documents that directly affect foreign investments within their geographical areas.  While not comprehensive, a list of published and official Chinese laws and regulations is available at:  http://www.gov.cn/zhengce/ .

FDI Laws on Investment Approvals

Foreign investments in industries and economic sectors that are not explicitly restricted or prohibited on the foreign investment negative or market access lists do not require MOFCOM pre-approval.  However, investors have complained that in practice, investing in an industry not on the negative list does not guarantee a foreign investor “national treatment,” or treatment no less favorable than treatment accorded to a similarly-situated domestic investor.  Foreign investors must still comply with other steps and approvals like receiving land rights, business licenses, and other necessary permits.  When a foreign investment needs ratification from the NDRC or a local development and reform commission, that administrative body is in charge of assessing the project’s compliance with a panoply of Chinese laws and regulations.  In some cases, NDRC also solicits the opinions of relevant Chinese industrial regulators and consulting agencies acting on behalf of Chinese domestic firms, creating potential conflicts of interest disadvantageous to foreign firms.

Competition and Anti-Trust Laws

The Anti-Monopoly Bureau of the SAMR enforces China’s Anti-Monopoly Law (AML) and oversees competition issues at the central and provincial levels.  The agency reviews mergers and acquisitions, and investigates cartel and other anticompetitive agreements, abuse of a dominant market position, and abuse of administrative powers by government agencies.  SAMR issues new implementation guidelines and antitrust provisions to fill in gaps in the AML, address new trends in China’s market, and help foster transparency in AML enforcement.  Generally, SAMR has sought public comment on proposed measures and guidelines, although comment periods can be less than 30 days.  In 2019, the agency put into effect provisions on abuse of market dominance, prohibition of monopoly agreements, and restraint against abuse of administrative powers to restrict competition.  In January 2020, SAMR published draft amendments to the AML for comment, which included, among other changes, stepped-up fines for AML violations and expanded factors to consider abuse of market dominance by Internet companies.  (This is the first step in a lengthy process to amend the AML.)  SAMR also oversees the Fair Competition Review System (FCRS), which requires government agencies to conduct a review prior to issuing new and revising existing laws, regulations, and guidelines to ensure such measures do not inhibit competition.

While these are seen as positive measures, foreign businesses have complained that enforcement of competition policy is uneven in practice and tends to focus on foreign companies.   Foreign companies have expressed concern that the government uses AML enforcement as an extension of China’s industrial policies, particularly for companies operating in strategic sectors.  The AML explicitly protects the lawful operations of government monopolies in industries that affect the national economy or national security.   U.S. companies have expressed concerns that SAMR consults with other Chinese agencies when reviewing M&A transactions, allowing other agencies to raise concerns, including those not related to antitrust enforcement, in order to block, delay, or force transacting parties to comply with preconditions in order to receive approval.  Foreign companies have also complained that China’s enforcement of AML facilitated forced technology transfer or licensing to local competitors.

Expropriation and Compensation

Chinese law prohibits nationalization of FIEs, except under vaguely specified “special circumstances” where there is a national security or public interest need. Chinese law requires fair compensation for an expropriated foreign investment, but does not detail the method used to calculate the value of the foreign investment.  The Department of State is not aware of any cases since 1979 in which China has expropriated a U.S. investment, although the Department has notified Congress through the annual 527 Investment Dispute Report of several cases of concern.

Dispute Settlement

ICSID Convention and New York Convention

China is a contracting state to the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID Convention) and has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (New York Convention).  Chinese legislation that provides for enforcement of foreign arbitral awards related to these two Conventions includes the Arbitration Law adopted in 1994, the Civil Procedure Law adopted in 1991 (later amended in 2012), the law on Chinese-Foreign Equity Joint Ventures adopted in 1979 (amended most recently in 2001), and a number of other laws with similar provisions.  The Arbitration Law embraced many of the fundamental principles of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law’s Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration.

Investor-State Dispute Settlement  (ISDS)

Initially, China was disinclined to accept ISDS as a method to resolve investment disputes based on its suspicions of international law and international arbitration, as well as its emphasis on state sovereignty.  China’s early BITs, such as the 1982 China–Sweden BIT, only included state–state dispute settlement.  As China has become a capital exporter under its initiative of “Going Global” and infrastructure investments under the OBOR initiative, its views on ISDS have shifted to allow foreign investors with unobstructed access to international arbitration to resolve any investment dispute that cannot be amicably settled within six months.  Chinese investors did not use ISDS mechanisms until 2007, and the first known ISDS case against China was initiated in 2011 by Malaysian investors.  On July 19, 2019, China submitted its proposal on ISDS reform to the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Working Group III.  Under the proposal, China reaffirmed its commitment to ISDS as an important mechanism for resolving investor-state disputes under public international law.  However, it suggested various pathways for ISDS reform, including supporting the study of a permanent appellate body. including supporting the study of a permanent appellate body.

International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts

Chinese officials typically urge private parties to resolve commercial disputes through informal conciliation.  If formal mediation is necessary, Chinese parties and the authorities typically prefer arbitration to litigation.  Many contract disputes require arbitration by the Beijing-based China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC).  Established by the State Council in 1956 under the auspices of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), CIETAC is China’s most widely utilized arbitral body for foreign-related disputes.  Some foreign parties have obtained favorable rulings from CIETAC, while others have questioned CIETAC’s fairness and effectiveness.  Besides CIETAC, there are also provincial and municipal arbitration commissions.  A foreign party may also seek arbitration in some instances from an offshore commission.  Foreign companies often encounter challenges in enforcing arbitration decisions issued by Chinese and foreign arbitration bodies.  In these instances, foreign investors may appeal to higher courts.  The Chinese government and judicial bodies do not maintain a public record of investment disputes.  The SPC maintains an annual count of the number of cases involving foreigners but does not provide details about the cases.  Rulings in some cases are open to the public.
In 2018, the SPC established the China International Commercial Court (CICC) to adjudicate international commercial cases, especially cases related to the OBOR initiative.  The first CICC was established in Shenzhen, followed by a second court in Xi’an.  The court held its first public hearing on May 2019, involving a Chinese company suing an Italian company, and issued its first ruling on March 2020, siding with the Chinese company.  Parties to a dispute before the CICC can only be represented by Chinese law-qualified lawyers, as foreign lawyers do not have a right of audience in Chinese courts.  Unlike other international courts, foreign judges are not permitted to be part of the proceedings.  Judgments of the CICC, given it is a part of the SPC, cannot be appealed from, but are subject to possible “retrial” under the Civil Procedure Law.  Local contacts and academics note that to-date, the CICC has not reviewed any OBOR or infrastructure related cases and question the CICC’s ability to provide “equal protection” to foreign investors.

China has bilateral agreements with 27 countries on the recognition and enforcement of foreign court judgments, but not with the United States.  However, under Chinese law, local courts must prioritize China’s laws and other regulatory measures above foreign court judgments.

Bankruptcy Regulations

China introduced formal bankruptcy laws in 2007, under the Enterprise Bankruptcy Law, which applied to all companies incorporated under Chinese laws and subject to Chinese regulations.  However, courts routinely rejected applications from struggling businesses and their creditors due to the lack of implementation guidelines and concerns over social unrest.  Local government-led negotiations resolved most corporate debt disputes, using asset liquidation as the main insolvency procedure.  Many insolvent Chinese companies survived on state subsidies and loans from state-owned banks, while others defaulted on their debts with minimal payments to creditors.  After a decade of heavy borrowing, China’s growth has slowed and forced the government to make needed bankruptcy reforms.  China now has more than 90 U.S.-style specialized bankruptcy courts.  In 2019, the government added new courts in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.  Court-appointed administrators—law firms and accounting firms that help verify claims, organize creditors’ meetings, and list and sell assets online as authorities look to handle more cases and process them faster.  China’s SPC recorded over 19,000 liquidation and bankruptcy cases in 2019, double the number of cases in 2017.  While Chinese authorities are taking steps to address mounting corporate debt and are gradually allowing some companies to fail, companies generally avoid pursing bankruptcy because of the potential for local government interference and fear of losing control over the bankruptcy outcome.  According to experts, Chinese courts not only lack the resources and capacity to handle bankruptcy cases, but bankruptcy administrators, clerks, and judges lack relevant experience.

4. Industrial Policies

Investment Incentives

To attract foreign investment, different provinces and municipalities offer preferential packages like a temporary reduction in taxes, resources and land use benefits, reduction in import or export duties, special treatment in obtaining basic infrastructure services, streamlined government approvals, research and development subsidies, and funding for initial startups.  Often, these packages stipulate that foreign investors must meet certain benchmarks for exports, local content, technology transfer, and other requirements.  The Chinese government incentivizes foreign investors to participate in initiatives like MIC 2025 that seek to transform China into an innovation-based economy.  Announced in 2015, China’s MIC 2025 roadmap has prioritized the following industries:  new-generation information technology, advanced numerical-control machine tools and robotics, aerospace equipment, maritime engineering equipment and vessels, advanced rail, new-energy vehicles, energy equipment, agricultural equipment, new materials, and biopharmaceuticals and medical equipment.  While mentions of MIC 2025 have all but disappeared from public discourse, a raft of policy announcements at the national and sub-national levels indicate China’s continued commitment to developing these sectors.  Foreign investment plays an important role in helping China move up the manufacturing value chain.  However, foreign investment remains closed off to many economic sectors that China deems sensitive due to broadly defined national or economic security concerns.

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

In 2013, the State Council announced the Shanghai pilot FTZ to provide open and high-standard trade and investment services to foreign companies.  China gradually scaled up its FTZ pilot program to 12 FTZs, launching an additional six FTZs in 2019.  China’s FTZs are in: Tianjin, Guangdong, Fujian, Chongqing, Hainan, Henan, Hubei, Liaoning, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Shandong, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Guanxi, and Yunnan provinces.  The goal of all of China’s FTZs is to provide a trial ground for trade and investment liberalization measures and to introduce service sector reforms, especially in financial services, that China expects to eventually introduce in other parts of the domestic economy.  The FTZs promise foreign investors “national treatment” for the market access phase of an investment in industries and sectors not listed on the FTZ negative list, or on the list of industries and economic sectors from which foreign investment is restricted or prohibited.  However, the 2019 FTZ negative list lacked substantive changes, and many foreign firms have reported that in practice, the degree of liberalization in the FTZs is comparable to opportunities in other parts of China.  The stated purpose of FTZs is also to integrate these areas more closely with the OBOR initiative.

Performance and Data Localization Requirements

As part of China’s WTO accession agreement, the PRC government promised to revise its foreign investment laws to eliminate sections that imposed on foreign investors requirements for export performance, local content, balanced foreign exchange through trade, technology transfer, and research and development as a prerequisite to enter China’s market.  In practice, China has not completely lived up to these promises.  Some U.S. businesses report that local officials and regulators sometimes only accept investments with “voluntary” performance requirements or technology transfer that help develop certain domestic industries and support the local job market.  Provincial and municipal governments will sometimes restrict access to local markets, government procurement, and public works projects even for foreign firms that have already invested in the province or municipality.  In addition, Chinese regulators have reportedly pressured foreign firms in some sectors to disclose IP content or provide IP licenses to Chinese firms, often at below market rates.

Furthermore, China’s evolving cybersecurity and personal data protection regime includes onerous restrictions on firms that generate or process data in China, such as requirements for certain firms to store data in China.  Restrictions exist on the transfer of personal information of Chinese citizens outside of China.  These restrictions have prompted many firms to review how their networks manage data.  Foreign firms also fear that PRC laws call for the use of “secure and controllable,” “secure and trustworthy,” etc. technologies will curtail sales opportunities for foreign firms or pressure foreign companies to disclose source code and other proprietary intellectual property.  In October 2019, China adopted a Cryptography Law that includes restrictive requirements for commercial encryption products that “involve national security, the national economy and people’s lives, and public interest.”  This broad definition of commercial encryption products that must undergo a security assessment raises concerns that implementation will lead to unnecessary restrictions on foreign information and communications technology (ICT) products and services.  Further, prescriptive technology adoption requirements, often in the form of domestic standards that diverge from global norms, in effect give preference to domestic firms.  These requirements potentially jeopardize IP protection and overall competitiveness of foreign firms operating in China.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

The Chinese state owns all urban land, and only the state can issue long-term land leases to individuals and companies, including foreigners, subject to many restrictions.  Chinese property law stipulates that residential property rights renew automatically, while commercial and industrial grants renew if the renewal does not conflict with other public interest claims.  Several foreign investors have reported revocation of land use rights so that Chinese developers could pursue government-designated building projects.  Investors often complain about insufficient compensation in these cases.  In rural China, collectively owned land use rights are more complicated.  The registration system suffers from unclear ownership lines and disputed border claims, often at the expense of local farmers whom village leaders exclude in favor of “handshake deals” with commercial interests.  China’s Securities Law defines debtor and guarantor rights, including rights to mortgage certain types of property and other tangible assets, including long-term leases.  Chinese law does not prohibit foreigners from buying non-performing debt, but such debt must be acquired through state-owned asset management firms, and PRC officials often use bureaucratic hurdles to limit foreigners’ ability to liquidate assets.

Intellectual Property Rights

In 2019, China’s legislature promulgated multiple reforms to China’s IP protection and enforcement systems.  In January, the Guidelines on Interim and Preliminary Injunctions for Intellectual Property Disputes came into force. These SPC guidelines provide added clarity to the IP injunction process and offer additional procedural safeguards for trade secret cases.  In April, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress passed amendments to the Trademark Law, the Anti-Unfair Competition Law (AUCL), and the Administrative Licensing Law, among other legislation that increases the potential punitive penalty for willful infringement to up to five times the value of calculated damages.  China also amended the Administrative Licensing Law to provide administrative penalties for government officials who illegally disclose trade secrets or require the transfer of technology for the granting of administrative licenses.  Similarly, in March, China’s State Council revised several regulations that U.S. and EU enterprises and governments had criticized for discriminating against foreign technology and IP holders.  Finally, in November, the Amended Guidelines for Patent Examination came into effect.  This measure provides further procedural guidance and defines patentability requirements for stem cells and graphical user interfaces.

Despite the changes to China’s legal and regulatory IP regime, some aspects of China’s IP protection regime fall short of international best practices.  Ineffective enforcement of Chinese laws and regulations remains a significant obstacle for foreign investors trying to protect their IP, and counterfeit and pirated goods manufactured in China continue to pose a challenge.  U.S. rights holders continued to experience widespread infringement of patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets, as well as problems with competitors gaming China’s IP protection and enforcement systems.  In some sectors, Chinese law imposes requirements that U.S. firms develop their IP in China or transfer their IP to Chinese entities as a condition to accessing the Chinese market, or to obtain tax and other preferential benefits available to domestic companies.  Chinese policies can effectively require U.S. firms to localize research and development activities, making their IP much more susceptible to theft or illicit transfer.  These practices are documented in the 2019 Section 301 Report released by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).  The PRC also remained on the Priority Watch List in the 2020 USTR Special 301 Report, and several Chinese physical and online markets were listed in the 2019 USTR Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy.  Under the recently signed U.S.-China Phase One trade agreement, China is required to make a number of structural reforms to its IP regime, which will be captured in an IP action plan.

For detailed information on China’s environment for IPR protection and enforcement, please see the following reports:

8. Responsible Business Conduct

General awareness of RBC standards (including environmental, social, and governance issues) is a relatively new concept to most Chinese companies, especially companies that exclusively operate in China’s domestic market.  Chinese laws that regulate business conduct use voluntary compliance, are often limited in scope, and are frequently cast aside when other economic priorities supersede RBC priorities.  In addition, China lacks mature and independent non-governmental organizations (NGOs), investment funds, worker unions, and other business associations that promote RBC, further contributing to the general lack of awareness in Chinese business practices.  The Foreign NGO Law remains a concern for U.S. organizations due to the restrictions on many NGO activities, including promotion of RBC and corporate social responsibility (CSR) best practices.  For U.S. investors looking to partner with a Chinese company or expand operations, finding partners that meet internationally recognized standards in areas like labor, environmental protection, worker safety, and manufacturing best practices can be a significant challenge.  However, the Chinese government has placed greater emphasis on protecting the environment and elevating sustainability as a key priority, resulting in more Chinese companies adding environmental concerns to their CSR initiatives.  As part of these efforts, Chinese ministries have signed several memoranda of understanding with international organizations such as the OECD to cooperate on RBC initiatives.  As a result, MOFCOM in 2016 launched the RBC Platform, which serves as the national contact point on RBC issues and supplies information to companies about RBC best practices in China.

9. Corruption

Since Xi’s rise to power in 2012, China has undergone an intensive and large-scale anti-corruption campaign, with investigations reaching into all sectors of the government, military, and economy.  Xi labeled endemic corruption an “existential threat” to the very survival of the CCP.  Since then, each CCP annual plenum has touched on judicial, administrative, and CCP discipline reforms needed to root out corruption.  In 2018, the CCP amended the constitution to enable the CCP’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) to become a state organ, calling the new body the National Supervisory Commission-Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (NSC-CCDI). The NSC-CCDI wields the power to investigate any public official and those involved in corrupt officials’ dealings.  From 2012 to 2019, the NSC-CCDI claimed it investigated 2.78 million cases – more than the total of the preceding 10 years.  In 2019 alone, the NSC-CCDI investigated 619,000 cases and disciplined approximately 587,000 individuals, of whom 45 were officials at or above the provincial or ministerial level.  The PRC’s overseas fugitive-hunting campaign, called “Operation Skynet,” has led to the capture of more than 7,500 fugitives suspected of corruption who were living in other countries.  The PRC did not notify host countries of these operations.  In 2019 alone, NSC-CCDI reported apprehending 2,041 alleged fugitives suspected of official crimes, including 860 corrupt officials, as well as recovering about USD797.5 million in stolen money.

Anecdotal information suggests the PRC’s anti-corruption crackdown is inconsistently and discretionarily applied, raising concerns among foreign companies in China.  For example, to fight rampant commercial corruption in the medical/pharmaceutical sector, the PRC’s health authority issued “black lists” of firms and agents involved in commercial bribery, including several foreign companies.  Anecdotal information suggests many PRC officials responsible for approving foreign investment projects, as well as some routine business transactions, delayed approvals so as not to arouse corruption suspicions, making it increasingly difficult to conduct normal commercial activity.  While central government leadership has welcomed increased public participation in reporting suspected corruption at lower levels, direct criticism of central government leadership or policies remains off-limits and is seen as an existential threat to China’s political and social stability.

China ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption in 2005 and participates in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and OECD anti-corruption initiatives.  China has not signed the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery, although Chinese officials have expressed interest in participating in the OECD Working Group on Bribery meetings as an observer.

Resources to Report Corruption

The following government organization receives public reports of corruption:  Anti-Corruption Reporting Center of the CCP Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the Ministry of Supervision, Telephone Number:  +86 10 12388.

10. Political and Security Environment

Foreign companies operating in China face a low risk of political violence.  However, protests in Hong Kong in 2019 exposed foreign investors to political risk due to Hong Kong’s role as an international hub for investment into and out of China.  The CCP also punished companies that expressed support for Hong Kong protesters — most notably, a Chinese boycott of the U.S. National Basketball Association after one team’s general manager expressed his personal view supporting the Hong Kong protesters.  In the past, the PRC government has also encouraged protests or boycotts of products from countries like the United States, South Korea, Japan, Norway, Canada, and the Philippines, in retaliation for unrelated policy decisions.  Examples of politically motivated economic retaliation against foreign firms include boycott campaigns against Korean retailer Lotte in 2016 and 2017 in retaliation for the South Korean government’s decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) to the Korean Peninsula; and the PRC’s retaliation against Canadian companies and citizens for Canada’s arrest of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou.

PRC authorities also have broad authority to prohibit travelers from leaving China (known as an “exit ban”) and have imposed exit bans to compel U.S. citizens to resolve business disputes, force settlement of court orders, or facilitate government investigations.  Individuals not directly involved in legal proceedings or suspected of wrongdoing have also been subject to lengthy exit bans in order to compel family members or colleagues to cooperate with Chinese courts or investigations.  Exit bans are often issued without notification to the foreign citizen or without clear legal recourse to appeal the exit ban decision.

Macau

Executive Summary

Macau became a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on December 20, 1999. Macau’s status since reverting to Chinese sovereignty is defined in the Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration (1987) and the Basic Law. Under the concept of “one country, two systems” articulated in these documents, Macau enjoys a high degree of autonomy in economic matters, and its economic system is to remain unchanged for 50 years following the 1999 reversion to Chinese sovereignty. The Government of Macau (GOM) maintains a transparent, non-discriminatory, and free-market economy. The GOM is committed to maintaining an investor-friendly environment.

In 2002, the GOM ended a long-standing gaming monopoly, awarding two gaming concessions and one sub-concession to consortia with U.S. interests. This opening encouraged substantial U.S. investment in casinos and hotels and has spurred rapid economic growth.

Macau is today the biggest gaming center in the world, having surpassed Las Vegas in terms of gambling revenue. U.S. investment over the past decade is estimated to exceed USD 23.8 billion. In addition to gaming, Macau hopes to position itself as a regional center for incentive travel, conventions, and tourism, though to date it has experienced limited success in diversifying its economy. In 2007, business leaders founded the American Chamber of Commerce of Macau.

Macau also seeks to become a “commercial and trade cooperation service platform” between mainland China and Portuguese-speaking countries. The GOM has various policies to promote these efforts and to create business opportunities for domestic and foreign investors.

In September 2016, the GOM announced its first Five-Year Development Plan (2016-2020). Highlights include establishing a trade cooperation service platform between mainland China and Portuguese-speaking countries, improving the structure of industries, increasing the quality of life, protecting the environment, and strengthening government efficiency.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index N/A x of 175 http://www.transparency.org/
research/cpi/overview
World Bank’s Doing Business Report N/A x of 190 http://www.doingbusiness.org/en/rankings
Global Innovation Index N/A x of 129 https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/
analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2016 USD 2,541 https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/
World Bank GNI per capita 2018 USD 79,110 http://data.worldbank.org/
indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

3. Legal Regime

Transparency of the Regulatory System

The GOM has transparent policies and laws that establish clear rules and do not unnecessarily impede investment. The basic elements of a competition policy are set out in Macau’s Commercial Code.

The GOM will normally conduct a three-month public consultation when amending or making legislation, including investment laws, and will prepare a draft bill based on the results of the public consultation. The lawmakers will discuss the draft bill before putting it to a final vote. All the processes are transparent and consistent with international norms.

Public comments received by the GOM are not made available online to the public. The draft bills are made available at the Legislative Assembly’s website http://www.al.gov.mo/zh/, while this website http://www.io.gov.mo/ links to the GOM’s Printing Bureau, which publishes laws, rules, and procedures.

Macau’s anti-corruption agency the Commission Against Corruption (known by its Portuguese acronym CCAC) carries out ombudsman functions to safeguard rights, freedoms, and legitimate interests of individuals and to ensure the impartiality and efficiency of public administration.

Macau’s law on the budgetary framework (Decree 15/2017) aims to reinforce monitoring of public finances and to enhance transparency in the preparation and execution of the fiscal budget.

International Regulatory Considerations

Macau is a member of WTO and adopts international norms. The GOM notified all draft technical regulations to the WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade.

Macau, as a signatory to the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), has achieved a 100 percent rate of implementation commitments.

Legal System and Judicial Independence

Under “one country, two systems”, Macau maintains Continental European law as the foundation of its legal system, which is based on the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary. The current judicial process is procedurally competent, fair, and reliable. Macau has a written commercial law and contract law. The Commercial Code is a comprehensive source of commercial law, while the Civil Code serves as a fundamental source of contractual law. Courts in Macau include the Court of Final Appeal, Intermediate Courts, and Primary Courts. There is also an Administrative Court, which has jurisdiction over administrative and tax cases. These provide an effective means for enforcing property and contractual rights. At present, the Court of Final Appeal has three judges; the Intermediate Courts have nine judges; and the Primary Courts have 31 judges. The Public Prosecutions Office has 38 prosecutors.

Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment

Macau’s legal system is based on the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary. Foreign and domestic companies register under the same rules and are subject to the same set of commercial and bankruptcy laws (Decree 40/99/M).

Competition and Anti-Trust Laws

Macau has no agency that reviews transactions for competition-related concerns, nor a competition law. The Commercial Code (Law No. 16/2009) contains basic elements of a competition policy with regard to commercial practices that can distort the proper functioning of markets. While the GOM has stated that existing provisions are adequate and appropriate given the scale and scope of local economy, it announced in March 2019 that it was studying a fair competition law that would protect against monopolies and price-fixing. The GOM has since not disclosed the progress of the study.

Expropriation and Compensation

The U.S. Consulate General is not aware of any direct or indirect actions to expropriate. Legal expropriations of private property may occur if it is in the public interest. In such cases, the GOM will exchange the private property with an equivalent public property based on the fair market value and conditions of the former. The exchange of property is in accordance with established principles of international law. There is no remunerative compensation.

Dispute Settlement

ICSID Convention and New York Convention

Both the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (ICSID Convention) and the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (New York Convention) apply to Macau. The Law on International Commercial Arbitration (Decree 55/98/M) provides for enforcement of awards under the 1958 New York Convention.

Investor-State Dispute Settlement

The U.S. Consulate General is aware of one previous investment dispute involving U.S. or other foreign investors or contractors and the GOM. In March 2010, a low-cost airline carrier was reportedly forced to cancel flight services because of a credit dispute with its fuel provider, triggering events which led to the airline’s de-licensing. Macau courts declared the airline bankrupt in September 2010. The airline’s major shareholder, a U.S. private investment company, filed a case in the Macau courts seeking a judgment as to whether a GOM administrative act led to the airline’s demise. The Court of Second Instance held hearings in May and June 2012. In November 2013, the Court of Second Instance rejected the appeal. Private investment disputes are normally handled in the courts or via private negotiation. Alternatively, disputes may be referred to the Hong Kong International Arbitration Center or the World Trade Center Macau Arbitration Center.

International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts

Macau has an arbitration law (Decree 55/98/M), which adopts the UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) model law for international commercial arbitration. The GOM accepts international arbitration of investment disputes between itself and investors. Local courts recognize and enforce foreign arbitral awards.

Macau established the World Trade Center Macau Arbitration Center in June 1998. The objective of the Center is to promote the resolution of disputes through arbitration and conciliation, providing the disputing parties with alternative resolutions other than judicial litigation.

Foreign judgments in civil and commercial matters may be enforced in Macau. The enforcement of foreign judgments is stipulated in Articles 1199 and 1200 of the Civil Procedure Code. A foreign court decision will be recognized and enforced in Macau, provided that it qualifies as a final decision supported by authentic documentation and that its enforcement will not breach Macau’s public policy.

Bankruptcy Regulations

Commercial and bankruptcy laws are written under the Macau Commercial Code, the Civil Procedure Code, and the Penal Code. Bankruptcy proceedings can be invoked by an application from the bankrupt business, by petition of the creditor, or by the Public Prosecutor. There are four methods used to prevent the occurrence of bankruptcy: the creditors meeting, the audit of the company’s assets, the amicable settlement, and the creditor agreement. According to Articles 615-618 of the Civil Code and Article 351-353 of the Civil Procedure Code, a creditor who has a justified fear of losing the guarantee of his credits may request seizure of the assets of the debtor. Bankruptcy offenses are subject to criminal liability.

There is no credit bureau or other credit monitoring authority serving Macau’s market.

4. Industrial Policies

Investment Incentives

To attract foreign investment, the GOM offers investment incentives to investors on a national treatment basis. These incentives are contained in Decrees 23/98/M and 49/85/M and are provided so long as companies can prove they are doing one of the following: promoting economic diversification, contributing to the promotion of exports to new unrestricted markets, promoting added value within their activity’s value chain, or contributing to technical modernization. There is no requirement that Macau residents own shares. These incentives are categorized as fiscal incentives, financial incentives, and export diversification incentives.

Fiscal incentives include full or partial exemption from profit/corporate tax, industrial tax, property tax, stamp duty for transfer of properties, and consumption tax. The tax incentives are consistent with the WTO Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures, as they are neither export subsidies nor import substitution subsidies as defined in the WTO Agreement. In 2019, the GOM put forward an enhanced tax deduction for research and development (R&D) expenditure incurred for innovation and technology projects by companies whose registered capital reached USD 125,000, or whose average taxable profits reached USD 62,500 per year in three consecutive years. The tax deduction amounts to 300 percent for the first USD 375,000 of qualifying R&D expenditure and 200 percent for the remaining amount, subject to a limit of USD 1.9 million in total). In addition, income received from Portuguese speaking countries is exempt from the corporate tax, provided such income has been subject to tax in its place of origin.

Two new laws to encourage financial leasing activities in Macau became effective in April 2019. Under the new regime, the minimum capital requirement of a financial leasing company is reduced from USD 3.75 million to USD 1.25 million. In addition, the acquisition by the financial leasing company of a property exclusively for its sole use has an exemption of up to USD 62,500 from a stamp duty.

Financial incentives include government-funded interest subsidies. Export diversification incentives include subsidies given to companies and trade associations attending trade promotion activities organized by IPIM. Only companies registered with Macau Economic Services (MES) may receive subsidies for costs such as space rental or audio-visual material production. Macau also provides other subsidies for the installation of anti-pollution equipment.

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

Macau is a free port; however, there are four types of dutiable commodities: liquors, tobacco, vehicles, and petrol (gasoline). Licenses must be obtained from the MES prior to importation of these commodities.

In order to promote the MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions, and exhibitions) and logistics industries in Macau, the GOM has accepted the ATA Carnet (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission), an international customs document providing an efficient method for the temporary import and re-export of goods that eases the way for foreign exhibitions and businesses.

The latest CEPA addition established principles of trade facilitation, including simplifying customs procedures, enhancing transparency, and strengthening cooperation.

Performance and Data Localization Requirements

Macau does not follow a forced localization policy in which foreign investors must use domestic content in goods or technology.

There are no requirements by the GOM for foreign IT providers to turn over source code and/or provide access to surveillance (i.e., backdoors into hardware and software or turning over keys for encryption).

According to the Personal Data Protection Act (Decree 8/2005), if there is transfer of personal data to a destination outside Macau, the opinion of the Office for Personal Data Protection — the regulatory authority responsible for supervising and enforcing the Act — must be sought to confirm if such destination ensures an adequate level of protection.

In December 2019, Macau’s Cybersecurity Law came into force. With this law, public and private network operators in certain industries have to meet obligations, including providing real-time access to select network data to Macau authorities, with the stated aim of protecting the information network and computer systems. For example, network operators must register and verify the identity of users before providing telecommunication services. The new law creates new investment and operational costs for affected businesses, and has raised some privacy and surveillance concerns.

One major U.S. cloud computing company reported that Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau had refused permission for potential clients in the gaming sector to export personal data-to-data centers located outside of Macau.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

Private ownership of property is enshrined in the Basic Law. There are no restrictions on foreign property ownership. Macau has a sound banking mortgage system, which is under the supervision of the Macau Monetary Authority (MMA). There are only a small number of freehold property interests in the older part of Macau.

According to the Cartography and Cadaster Bureau, 21 percent of land parcels in Macau do not have clear title, for unknown reasons. Industry observers commented that no one knows whether these land parcels will be privately or publicly owned in the future.

The Land Law (Decree 10/2013) stipulates that provisional land concessions cannot be renewed upon their expiration if their leaseholders fail to finish developing the respective plots of land within a maximum concession period of 25 years. The leaseholders will not only be prohibited from renewing the undeveloped concessions – regardless of who or what caused the non-development – but also have no right to be indemnified or compensated.

Intellectual Property Rights

Macau is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Macau is not listed in USTR’s Special 301 Report. Macau has acceded to the Bern Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. Patents and trademarks are registered under Decree 97/99/M. Macau’s copyright laws are compatible with the WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, and government offices are required to use only licensed software. The GOM devotes considerable attention to intellectual property rights enforcement and coordinates with copyright holders. Source Identification Codes are stamped on all optical discs produced in Macau. The MES uses an expedited prosecution arrangement to speed up punishment of accused retailers of pirated products. The copyright protection law has been extended to cover online privacy. Copyright infringement for trade or business purposes is subject to a fine or maximum imprisonment of four years.

Macau Customs maintains an enforcement department to investigate incidents of intellectual property (IP) theft. Macau Customs works closely with mainland Chinese authorities, foreign customs agencies, and the World Customs Organization to share best practices to address criminal organizations engaging in IP theft. In 2019, Macau Customs seized a total of 3,849 pieces of counterfeit goods, including 3,329 garments, 7 leather products, and 513 electronic appliances. In 2019, the MES filed a total of 15,391 applications for trademark registrations.

In 2019, the MES filed a total of 15,391 applications for trademark registrations.

8. Responsible Business Conduct

The six gaming concessionaires that dominate Macau’s economy pay four percent of gross gaming revenues to the government to fund cultural and social programs in the SAR. Several operators also directly fund gaming addiction rehabilitation programs. Some government-affiliated entities maintain active corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs. For example, Companhia de Electricidade de Macau, an electric utility, provides educational programs and repair services free-of-charge to underprivileged residents. One of the nine aspects that the GOM will consider for the renewal of gaming licenses is casino operators’ CSR performance. In November 2019, the Business Awards of Macau presented the Gold Award to Galaxy Entertainment Group for its corporate social responsibility initiatives.

Macau is not a member of the OECD, and hence, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are not applicable to Macau companies.

9. Corruption

Mainland China extended in February 2006 the United Nations Convention Against Corruption to Macau. Macau has laws to combat corruption by public officials and the private sector. Anti-corruption laws are applied in a non-discriminatory manner and effectively enforced. One provision stipulates that anyone who offers a bribe to foreign public officials (including officials from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan) and officials of public international organizations in exchange for a trade deal could receive a jail term of up to three years or fines.

The CCAC is a member of the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities and a member of the Anti-Corruption Action Plan for Asia and the Pacific. The CCAC’s guidelines on prevention and repression of corruption in the private sector and a booklet Corruption Prevention Tips for Private Companies provide rules of conduct that private companies must observe. In January 2019, the GOM completed a public consultation on public procurement in order to create a legal framework through which the GOM will seek to promote an efficient and transparent regime. The GOM expected that a draft bill will be ready in the second half of 2020.

Resources to Report Corruption

CHAN Tsz King, Commissioner
Commission Against Corruption
105, Avenida Xian Xing Hai, 17/F, Centro Golden Dragon, Macau
+853- 2832-6300
ccac@ccac.org.mo

10. Political and Security Environment

Macau is politically stable. The U.S. Consulate General is not aware of any incidents in recent years involving politically motivated damage to projects or installations.

Russia

Executive Summary

The Russian Federation continued to implement regulatory reforms in 2019, allowing Russia to climb three notches to 28th place out of 190 economies in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 Index.  However, fundamental structural problems in Russia’s governance of the economy continue to stifle foreign direct investment in the country.  In particular, Russia’s judicial system remains heavily biased in favor of the state, leaving investors with little recourse in legal disputes with the government.  Despite ongoing anticorruption efforts, high levels of corruption among government officials compound this risk.  In February 2019, a prominent U.S. investor was arrested over a commercial dispute and remains under house arrest.  Moreover, Russia’s import substitution program imposes local content requirements that  create advantages for local producers .  Finally, Russia’s actions since 2014 have resulted in numerous EU and U.S. sanctions – restricting business activities and increasing costs.

U.S. investors must ensure full compliance with U.S. sanctions, including sanctions against Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine, election interference, other malicious cyber activities, human rights abuses, use of a chemical weapons, weapons proliferation, illicit trade with North Korea, and support to Syria and Venezuela.  Information on the U.S. sanctions program is available at the U.S. Treasury’s website: https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Pages/default.aspx  U.S. investors can utilize the “Consolidated Screening List” search tool to check sanctions and control lists from the Departments of Treasury, State, and Commerce: https://www.export.gov/csl-search.

In January 2020, the Russian government published a privatization plan for 2020-22 that identified 86 federal unitary state enterprises, 186 joint-stock companies, and 13 limited liability companies for privatization over a three-year period.  The plan specifies that market conditions will determine the terms of privatization, but the government estimates the plan could generate RUB 3.6 billion ($48.2 million) per year for the federal budget.  The plan would also reduce the state’s share in VTB, one of Russia’s largest banks, from over 60 percent to 50 percent plus one share and in Sovkomflot, a large shipping company, to 75 percent plus one share within three years.  Other large SOEs might be privatized on an ad hoc basis, depending on market conditions.

Since 2015, the Russian government has had an incentive program for foreign investors called Special Investment Contracts (SPICs).  These contracts, managed by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, allow foreign companies to participate in Russia’s import substitution programs by providing access to certain subsidies to foreign producers who establish local production.  In August 2019, the Russian government introduced “SPIC-2.0, which incentivizes long-term private investment in high-technology projects and technology transfer in manufacturing.

U.S. Embassy Moscow advises any foreign company operating in Russia to have competent legal counsel and create a comprehensive plan on steps to take in case the police carry out an unexpected raid.  Russian authorities have exhibited a pattern of transforming civil cases into criminal matters, resulting in significantly more severe penalties.  In short, unfounded lawsuits or arbitrary enforcement actions remain an ever-present possibility for any company operating in Russia.

In February 2019, Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) submitted its fifth anti-monopoly legislative package, which is devoted to regulating the digital economy, to the Cabinet.  It includes provisions on introducing new definitions of “trustee” and a definition of “price algorithms,” empowering FAS to impose provisions of non-discriminated access to data as a remedy.  It also introduced data ownership as a set of criteria for market analysis.  The legislative package is undergoing an interagency approval process and will be submitted to the State Duma once it is approved by the Cabinet.

Since January 1, 2019, foreign providers of electronic services to business customers in Russia (B2B e-services) have new Russian value-added tax (VAT) obligations.  These obligations include VAT registration with the Russian tax authorities (even for VAT exempt e-services), invoice requirements, reporting to the Russian tax authorities, and adhering to VAT remittance rules.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2019 137 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/
research/cpi/overview
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2019 28 of 190 http://www.doingbusiness.org/en/rankings
Global Innovation Index 2019 46 of 129 https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/
analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2018 $14,795 https://apps.bea.gov/international/di1usdbal
World Bank GNI per capita 2018 $10,230 http://data.worldbank.org/
indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

3. Legal Regime

Transparency of the Regulatory System

While the Russian government at all levels offers moderately transparent policies, actual implementation is inconsistent.    Draft bills and regulations are made available for public comment in accordance with disclosure rules set forth in Government Resolution 851 of 2012.

Key regulatory actions are published on a centralized web site that also maintains existing and proposed regulatory documents: www.pravo.gov.ru .  (Draft regulatory laws are published on the web site: www.regulation.gov.ru .  Draft laws can also be found on the State Duma’s legal database: http://asozd.duma.gov.ru/ ).

Accounting procedures are generally transparent and consistent.  Documents compliant with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), however, are usually provided only by businesses that interface with foreign markets or borrow from foreign lenders.  Reports prepared in accordance with the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) are required for the consolidated financial statements of all entities who meet the following criteria: entities whose securities are listed on stock exchanges; banks and other credit institutions, insurance companies (except those with activities limited to obligatory medical insurance); non-governmental pension funds; management companies of investment and pension funds; and clearing houses.

Additionally, certain state-owned enterprises are required to prepare consolidated IFRS financial statements by separate decrees of the Russian government.  Russian Accounting Standards, which are largely based on international best practices, otherwise apply.

International Regulatory Considerations

As a member of the EAEU, Russia has delegated certain decision-making authority to the EAEU’s supranational executive body, the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC).  In particular, the EEC has the lead on concluding trade agreements with third countries, customs tariffs (on imports), and technical regulations.  EAEU agreements and EEC decisions establish basic principles that are implemented by the member states at the national level through domestic laws, regulations, and other measures involving goods.  The EAEU Treaty establishes the priority of WTO rules in the EAEU legal framework.  Authority to set sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS), however, remains at the individual country level.

U.S. companies cite SPS technical regulations and related product-testing and certification requirements as major obstacles to U.S. exports of industrial and agricultural goods to Russia. Russian authorities require evidence of product testing and certification as key elements of the approval process for a variety of products, and, in many cases, there are no mutual recognition arrangements in place; only an entity registered and residing in Russia can apply for the necessary documentation for product approvals.  Consequently, opportunities for testing and certification performed by competent bodies outside Russia are limited.  Manufacturers of telecommunications equipment, oil and gas equipment, construction materials and equipment, and pharmaceuticals and medical devices have reported serious difficulties in obtaining product approvals within Russia.  Technical barriers to trade (TBT) issues have also arisen with alcoholic beverages, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices.

Russia joined the WTO in 2012.  Although Russia has notified the WTO of numerous SPS technical regulations, it appears to be taking a narrow view regarding the types of measures that require notification that  may not reflect the full set of technical regulations under the WTO TBT Agreement.  Russia submitted 16 SPS notifications in 2019.  (A full list of notifications is available at: http://www.epingalert.org/en).

Legal System and Judicial Independence

U.S. Embassy Moscow advises any foreign company operating in Russia to have competent legal counsel and create a comprehensive plan on steps to take in case the police carry out an unexpected raid.  Russian authorities have exhibited a pattern of transforming civil cases into criminal matters, resulting in significantly more severe penalties.  In short, unfounded lawsuits or arbitrary enforcement actions remain an ever-present possibility for any company operating in Russia.

Critics contend that Russian courts, in general, lack independent authority and, in criminal cases, have a bias towards conviction.  In practice, the presumption of innocence tends to be ignored by Russian courts, and less than one-half of one percent of criminal cases end in acquittal. In cases that are appealed when the lower court decision resulted in a conviction, less than one percent are overturned.  In contrast, when the lower court decision is “not guilty,” 37 percent of the appeals result in a finding of guilt.

Russia law is based on a system of legal code; the Civil Code of Russia governs contracts.  Specialized commercial courts (also called “Arbitrage Courts”) handle a wide variety of commercial disputes.  Russia was ranked by the World Bank’s 2020 Doing Business Index as 21st in contract enforcement.

Commercial courts are required by law to decide business disputes efficiently, and many cases are decided based on written evidence, with little or no live testimony by witnesses.  The courts’ workload is dominated by relatively simple cases involving the collection of debts and firms’ disputes with the taxation and customs authorities, pension funds, and other state organs. Tax-paying firms often prevail in their disputes with the government in court.  As with some international arbitral procedures, the weakness in the Russian arbitration system lies in the enforcement of decisions, and few firms voluntarily pay judgments against them.

A specialized court for intellectual property rights (IPR) disputes was established in 2013.  The IPR Court hears matters pertaining to the review of decisions made by the Russian Federal Service for Intellectual Property (Rospatent) and determines issues of IPR ownership, authorship, and the cancellation of trademark registrations.  It also serves as the court of second appeal for IPR infringement cases decided in commercial courts and courts of appeal.

Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment

The 1991 Investment Code and 1999 Law on Foreign Investment (160-FZ) guarantee that foreign investors enjoy rights equal to those of Russian investors, although some industries have limits on foreign ownership.  Russia’s Special Investment Contract program, launched in 2015, aims to increase investment in Russia by offering tax incentives and simplified procedures for dealings with the government.  In addition, a law on public-private-partnerships (224-FZ) took effect January 1, 2016.  The legislation allows an investor to acquire ownership rights over a property.  The SSL regulates foreign investments in “strategic” companies.  Amendments to Federal Law No. 160-FZ “On Foreign Investments in the Russian Federation” and Russia’s SSL, signed into law in May 2018, liberalized access of foreign investments to strategic sectors of the Russian economy and made the strategic clearance process clearer and more convenient.  The new approach is more investor-friendly, since applying a stricter regime can now potentially be avoided by providing the required beneficiary and controlling person information.  In addition, the amendments expressly envisage a right for the Federal Anti-monopoly Service (FAS) to issue official clarifications on the nature and application of the SSL that may facilitate law enforcement.

Competition and Anti-Trust Laws

FAS implements antimonopoly laws and is responsible for overseeing matters related to the protection of competition.  Russia’s fourth anti-monopoly legislative package, which took effect January 2016, introduced a number of changes to Russia’s antimonopoly laws.  Changes included limiting the criteria under which an entity could be considered “dominant,” broadening the scope of transactions subject to FAS approval, and reducing government control over transactions involving natural monopolies.  Over the past several years, FAS has opened a number of cases involving American companies.  In February 2019, FAS submitted its fifth anti-monopoly legislative package, which is devoted to regulating the digital economy, to the Cabinet.  It includes provisions on introducing new definitions of “trustee” and a definition of “price algorithms,” empowering FAS to impose provisions of non-discriminated access to data as a remedy.  It also introduced data ownership as a set of criteria for market analysis.  The legislative package is still undergoing an interagency approval process and will be submitted to the State Duma once it is approved by the Cabinet.

FAS has also claimed the authority to regulate IP, arguing that monopoly rights conferred by ownership of IP should not extend to the “circulation of goods,” a point supported by the Russian Supreme Court.

Expropriation and Compensation

The 1991 Investment Code prohibits the nationalization of foreign investments, except following legislative action and when such action is deemed to be in the public interest.  In such instances, the investor must be adequately and promptly compensated for the seizure of property.  Acts of nationalization may be appealed to Russian courts.  At the sub-federal level, expropriation has occasionally been a problem, as well as local government interference and a lack of ability to enforce court rulings protecting investors.

Despite legislation prohibiting the nationalization of foreign investments, investors in Russia – particularly minority-share investors in domestically-owned energy companies – are encouraged to exercise caution.  Russia has a history of indirectly expropriating companies through “creeping” and informal means, often related to domestic political disputes.  Foreign investors can also be pressured into selling their Russia-based assets at below-market prices.  Foreign investors, particularly minority investors, have little legal recourse in such instances.

Dispute Settlement

ICSID Convention and New York Convention

Russia is party to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.  While Russia does not have specific legislation providing for enforcement of the New York Convention, Article 15 of the Constitution specifies that “the universally recognized norms of international law and international treaties and agreements of the Russian Federation shall be a component part of [Russia’s] legal system.  If an international treaty or agreement of the Russian Federation fixes other rules than those envisaged by law, the rules of the international agreement shall be applied.”  Russia is a signatory but not a party and has never ratified the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (ICSID).

Investor-State Dispute Settlement

According to available information, at least 14 investment disputes have involved an American and the Russian government since 2006.  Some attorneys refer international clients who have investment or trade disputes in Russia to international arbitration.  A 1997 Russian law confirms New York Convention obligations by recognizing foreign arbitration awards for enforcement in Russia..  Russian law was amended in 2015 to give the Russian Constitutional Court authority to disregard verdicts by international bodies if it determines the ruling contradicts the Russian constitution.

International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts

In addition to the court system, Russian law recognizes alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms, i.e. domestic arbitration, international arbitration, and mediation.  Civil and commercial disputes may be referred to either domestic or international commercial arbitration. Institutional arbitration is more common in Russia than ad hoc arbitration.  Arbitral awards can be enforced in Russia pursuant to international treaties, such as the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, the 1958 New York Convention, and the 1961 European Convention on International Commercial Arbitration, as well as domestic legislation.  Mediation mechanisms were established by the Law on Alternative Dispute Resolution Procedure with Participation of the Intermediary in January 2011.  Mediation is an informal extrajudicial dispute resolution method whereby a mediator seeks mutually acceptable resolution.  However, mediation is not yet widely used in Russia.

Beginning in 2016, arbitral institutions were required to obtain the status of a “permanent arbitral institution” (PAI) in order to arbitrate disputes involving shares in Russian companies.  The requirement ostensibly combats the problem of dubious arbitral institutions set up by corporations to administer disputes in which they themselves are involved.  The PAI requirement applies to foreign arbitral institutions as well.  Until recently there were only four arbitral institutions – all of them Russian – which had been conferred the status of PAI.  In April 2019, however, the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre became the first foreign arbitral tribunal to obtain PAI status.  In June 2019, the Vienna International Arbitration Center became the second foreign institution licensed to administer arbitrations in Russia.  The International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce, the London Court of International Arbitration, and the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce continue to be selected for administering international arbitrations seated in Russia, despite the fact that none of these have PAI status.  Nonetheless, to date arbitral awards rendered by tribunals constituted under the rules of these institutions can be recognized and enforced in Russia.

Bankruptcy Regulations

Russia established a law providing for enterprises bankruptcy in the early 1990s.  A law on personal bankruptcy came into force in 2015.  Russia’s ranking in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 Index for “Resolving Insolvency” is 57 out of 190 economies.  Article 9 of the Law on Insolvency requires an insolvent firm to petition the court of arbitration to declare the company bankrupt within one month of failing to pay the bank’s claims.  The court then convenes a meeting of creditors, who petition the court for liquidation or reorganization.  In accordance with Article 51 of the Law on Insolvency, a bankruptcy case must be considered within seven months of the day the petition was received by the arbitral court.

Liquidation proceedings by law are limited to six months and can be extended by six more months (art. 124 of the Law on Insolvency).  Therefore, the time dictated by law is 19 months.  However, in practice, liquidation proceedings are extended several times and for longer periods.  The total cost of insolvency proceedings is approximately nine percent of the value of the estate.

In July 2017, amendments to the Law on Insolvency expanded the list of persons who may be held vicariously liable for a bankrupted entity’s debts and clarified the grounds for such liability. According to the new rules, in addition to the CEO, the following can also be held vicariously liable for a bankrupt company’s debts: top managers, including the CFO and COO, accountants, liquidators, and other persons who controlled or had significant influence over the bankrupted entity’s actions by kin or position or could force the bankrupted entity to enter into unprofitable transactions.  In addition, persons who profited from the illegal actions by management may also be subject to liability through court action.  The amendments clarified that shareholders owning less than 10 percent in the bankrupt company shall not be deemed controlling unless they are proven to have played a role in the company’s bankruptcy.  The amendments also expanded the list of people who may be subject to secondary liability and the grounds for recognizing fault for a company’s bankruptcy.

Amendments to the Law on Insolvency approved in December 2019 gave greater protection, in the context of insolvency of a Russian counterparty, to collateral arrangements, close-out netting in respect of over-the-counter derivative transactions, repurchases, and certain other “financial” transactions documented under eligible master agreements.

4. Industrial Policies

Investment Incentives

The government also introduced Special Investment Contracts (SPICs) as an alternative incentive program in 2015.  In 2017 the government changed the rules for concluding SPICs to increase investment in Russia by offering tax incentives and simplified procedures for government interactions.  These contracts allow foreign companies in Russia access to import substitution programs, including certain subsidies, if they establish local production.  In principle, these contracts may aid in expediting customs procedures.  However, in practice, reports suggest companies that sign such contracts find their business hampered by policies biased in favor of local producers.

In August 2019, the Russian government created “SPIC-2,” which aimed to increase long-term private investment in high-technology projects and introduce advanced technology for local content in manufacturing products.  The Ministry of Industry and Trade also extended the maximum SPIC term to 20 years, depending on the amount of investment.  The key criteria for evaluating bids are speed of introducing technology, the volume of manufacturing, and the level of technology in local manufacturing processes.

Since 2005, Russia’s industrial investment incentive regime has granted tax breaks and other government incentives to foreign companies in certain sectors in exchange for producing locally. As part of its WTO Protocol, Russia agreed to eliminate the elements of this regime that are inconsistent with the Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMS) Agreement by July 2018.  The TRIMS Agreement requires elimination of measures such as those that require or provide benefits for the use of domestically produced goods (local content requirements) or that restrict a firm’s imports to an amount related to its exports or related to the amount of foreign exchange a firm earns (trade balancing requirements).  Russia notified the WTO that it had terminated these automotive investment incentive programs as of July 1, 2018.  In 2019, the Ministry of Industry and Trade introduced a new points-based system to estimate vehicle local content levels to determine original equipment manufacturer (OEM)’s eligibility for Russian state support.  The government provides state support only to OEMs whose finished vehicles are deemed to be of Russian origin, which will depend upon them scoring at least 2,000 points under the new system to get some assistance and 6,000 point to enjoy a full range of support measures.  Points will be awarded for localizing the supply of certain components.  Locally-sourced engines or transmissions used in vehicle assembly, for instance, are worth 40 points.  OEMs running a research and development business in Russia score an additional 20 points, and a further 20 points are granted to those using locally-sourced aluminum or electronic systems in their vehicles.

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

Russia continues to promote the use of high-tech parks, special economic zones (SEZs), and industrial clusters, which offer additional tax and infrastructure incentives to attract investment. “Resident companies” can receive a broad range of benefits, including exemption from profit tax, value-added tax, property tax, and import duties and partial exemption from social fund payments.  Russia currently has 23 SEZs (http://www.russez.ru/oez/ ).  A Russian Accounts Chamber (RAC) investigation of SEZs in February 2020 found they have had no measurable impact on the Russian economy, despite RUB 136 billion ($1.8 billion) investment from the federal government from 2006 to 2018.  In 2015, the Russian government created a separate but similar program – “Territories of Advanced Development” – with preferential tax treatment and simplified government procedures in Siberia, Kaliningrad, and the Russian Far East.  In May 2016, President Putin stopped work on ten existing SEZ’s and suspended the creation of any new SEZs, pending better coordination with this new entity.

Performance and Data Localization Requirements

Russian law generally does not impose performance requirements, and they are not widely included as part of private contracts in Russia.  Some have appeared, however, in the agreements of large multinational companies investing in natural resources and in production-sharing legislation.  There are no formal requirements for offsets in foreign investments.  Since approval for investments in Russia can depend on relationships with government officials and on a firm’s demonstration of its commitment to the Russian market, these conditions may result in offsets.

In certain sectors, the Russian government has pressed for localization and increased local content.  For example, in a bid to boost high-tech manufacturing in the renewable energy sector, Russia guarantees a 12 percent profit over 15 years for windfarms using turbines with at least 65 percent local content.  Russia is additionally considering local content requirements for industries that have high percentages of government procurement, such as medical devices and pharmaceuticals.  Russia is not a signatory to the WTO’s Government Procurement Agreement. Consequently, restrictions on public procurement have been a major avenue for Russia to implement localization requirements without running afoul of international commitments.

The Central Bank of Russia (CBR) has imposed caps on the percentage of foreign employees in foreign banks’ subsidiaries.  Russian employees in a subsidiary of a foreign bank should make up at least 75 percent of the staff.  If the executive of the subsidiary is a non-resident of Russia, at least 50 percent of the bank’s managing body should be Russian citizens.

Russia’s data storage law (the “Yarovaya law”) took effect on July 1, 2018, requiring providers to store data in “full volume” beginning October 1, 2018.  The law requires domestic telecoms and internet service providers (ISPs) to store all customers’ voice calls and texts for six months; ISPs must store data traffic for one month.  The Yarovaya law initially required longer retention with a shorter implementation window, which companies criticized as costly and unworkable.  Until recently, there were no special liabilities for violations of the data localization requirement.  In December, President Putin signed into law legislative amendments establishing significant fines ranging from RUB 1 million ($13,400) to RUB 18 million ($241,000) for legal entities and from RUB 100,000 ($1,340) to RUB 800,000 ($10,700) for company CEOs.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

Russia ranks12th in the 2020 World Bank Doing Business Indexfor registering property, which analyzes the “steps, time and cost involved in registering property, assuming a standardized case of an entrepreneur who wants to purchase land and a building that is already registered and free of title dispute,” as well as the “the quality of the land administration system.”

The Russian Constitution, along with a 1993 presidential decree, gives Russian citizens the right to own, inherit, lease, mortgage, and sell real property.  The state owns the majority of Russian land, although the structures on the land are typically privately owned.  Mortgage legislation enacted in 2004 facilitates the process for lenders to evict homeowners who do not stay current in their mortgage payments.

Intellectual Property Rights

Russia remained on the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Priority Watch List in 2020 and had several illicit streaming websites and online markets reported in the 2019 Notorious Markets List.  Particular areas of concern include copyright infringement, trademark counterfeiting/hard goods piracy, and non-transparent royalty collection procedures.  Stakeholders reported in 2019 that enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR) continued to decline overall from 2018 following a reduction in resources for enforcement personnel.  In December 2019, for the first time in Russia, the owner of several illegal streaming sites received a two-year suspended criminal sentence for violating Russia’s IPR protection legislation.  This case has set an important precedent for enforcing IPR laws in Russia.

Online piracy continues to pose a significant problem in Russia.  Russia has not honored its commitments to protect IPR, including commitments made to the United States as part of its WTO accession.  Nevertheless, there are indications that the Russian internet piracy market is declining.  According to Group-IB, the online pirated movie market declined by 27 percent year-on-year in 2019, while legal streaming services increased by 44.3 percent.  Despite Russia’s 2018 ban on virtual private networks (VPNs), the ban has not been fully enforced.  Since 2017, search engines, including Google and Yandex, have been required to block IPR-infringing websites and “mirror” sites as determined by federal communications watchdog Roskomnadzor.  As a result of increased scrutiny, internet companies Yandex, Mail.Ru Group, Rambler, and Rutube signed an anti-piracy memorandum with several domestic right holders, which is valid through the end of 2021.

Modest progress has been made in the area of customs IPR enforcement since the Federal Customs Service (FCS) can now confiscate imported goods that violate IPR.  From January to September 2018, the FCS seized 14.4 million counterfeit goods, compared with 10.1 million in the same period in 2017.  In 2019, the FTS seized 11 million counterfeited goods in the same period.  The FCS prevented infringement and damages to copyright holders amounting to RUB 5.9 billion ($79 million) between January and September in 2019, compared with RUB 4.5 billion ($60.3 million) in 2018.

8. Responsible Business Conduct

While not standard practice, Russian companies are beginning to show an increased level of interest in their reputation as good corporate citizens. When seeking to acquire companies in Western countries or raise capital on international financial markets, Russian companies face international competition and scrutiny, including with respect to corporate social responsibility (CSR) standards. As a result, most large Russian companies currently have a CSR policy in place, or are developing one, despite the lack of pressure from Russian consumers and shareholders to do so. CSR policies of Russian firms are usually published on corporate websites and detailed in annual reports but do not involve a comprehensive “due diligence” approach of risk mitigation that the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises promotes. Most companies choose to create their own non-government organization (NGO) or advocacy outreach rather than contribute to an already existing organization. The Russian government is a powerful stakeholder in the development of certain companies’ CSR agendas. Some companies view CSR as merely financial support of social causes and choose to support local health, educational, and social welfare organizations favored by the government. One association, the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP), developed a Social Charter of Russian Business in 2004, which 269 Russian companies and organizations have joined as of April 1, 2020.

According to a study conducted by Skolkovo Business School, together with UBS Bank, corporate contributions to charitable causes in Russia reached an estimated RUB 220 billion ($2.9 billion) in 2017.  RSPP reported that as many as 185 major Russian companies published 1,038 corporate non-financial reports between 2000 and 2019, including on social responsibility initiatives.

9. Corruption

Despite some government efforts to combat it, the level of corruption in Russia remains high. Transparency International’s 2019 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) ranked Russia 137 out of 180, which was one notch below its 2018 rank.

Roughly 24 percent of entrepreneurs surveyed by the Russian Chamber of Commerce in October and November 2019 said they constantly faced corruption.  Businesses mainly experienced corruption during applications for permits (35.3 percent), during inspections (22.1 percent), and in the procurement processes (38.7 percent).  The areas of government spending that ranked highest in corruption were public procurement, media, national defense, and public utilities.

In March 2020, Russia’s new Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov reported RUB 21 billion ($281 million) were recovered in the course of anticorruption investigations in 2019.  In December 2019, Procurator General’s Office Spokesperson Svetlana Petrenko reported approximately over 7,000 corruption convictions in 2019, including of 752 law enforcement officers, 181 Federal Penitentiary Service (FPS) officers, 81 federal bailiffs, and 476 municipal officials.

Until recently, one of the peculiarities of Russian enforcement practice was that companies were prosecuted almost exclusively for small and mid-scale bribery.  Several 2019 cases indicate that Russian enforcement actions, finally, may extend to more severe offenses as well.  To date, ten convictions of companies for large- or extra large-scale bribery with penalty payments of RUB 20 million ($268,000) or more have been disclosed in 2019 – compared to only four cases in the whole of 2018.  In July 2019, Russian Standard Bank, which is among Russia’s 200 largest companies according to Forbes Russia, had to pay a penalty of RUB 26.5 million ($355,000) for bribing bailiffs in Crimea in order to speed up enforcement proceedings against defaulted debtors.

Still, there is no efficient protection for whistleblowers in Russia.  In June 2019, the legislative initiative aimed at the protection of whistleblowers in corruption cases ultimately failed.  The draft law, which had been adopted at the first reading in December 2017, provided for comprehensive rights of whistleblowers and responsibilities of employers and law enforcement authorities.  Since August 2018, Russian authorities have been authorized to pay whistleblowers rewards which may exceed RUB 3 million ($40,000).  However, rewards alone will hardly suffice to incentivize whistleblowing.

Russia adopted a law in 2012 requiring individuals holding public office, state officials, municipal officials, and employees of state organizations to submit information on the funds spent by them and members of their families (spouses and underage children) to acquire certain types of property, including real estate, securities, stock, and vehicles.  The law also required public servants to disclose the source of the funds for these purchases and to confirm the legality of the acquisitions.

In July 2018, President Putin signed a two-year plan to combat corruption.  The plan required public consultation for federal procurement projects worth more than RUB 50 million ($670,000) and municipal procurement projects worth more than RUB 5 million ($67,000).  The government also expanded the list of property that can be confiscated if the owners fail to prove it was acquired using lawful income.  The government maintains an online registry of officials charged with corruption-related offences, with individuals being listed for a period of five years.

The Constitutional Court has given clear guidance to law enforcement on asset confiscation due to the illicit enrichment of officials.  Russia has ratified the UN Convention against Corruption, but its ratification did not include article 20, which deals with illicit enrichment.  The Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) reported in 2019 that Russia had implemented only 10 out of 22 recommendations: eight concern members of the parliament, nine concern judges, and five concern prosecutors , according to a draft report by the office of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation that was submitted to the State Duma.

U.S. companies, regardless of size, are encouraged to assess the business climate in the relevant market in which they will be operating or investing and to have effective compliance programs or measures to prevent and detect corruption, including foreign bribery.  U.S. individuals and firms operating or investing in Russia should take time to become familiar with the relevant anticorruption laws of both Russia and the United States in order to comply fully with them.  They should also seek the advice of legal counsel when appropriate.

Resources to Report Corruption

Andrey Avetisyan Ambassador at Large for International Anti-Corruption Cooperation
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
32/34 Smolenskaya-Sennaya pl, Moscow, Russia
+7 499 244-16-06

Anton Pominov
Director General
Transparency International – Russia
Rozhdestvenskiy Bulvar, 10, Moscow
Email: Info@transparency.org.ru

Individuals and companies that wish to report instances of bribery or corruption that affect their operations and request the assistance of the United States government with respect to issues relating to corruption may call the Department of Commerce’s Russia Corruption Reporting hotline at (202) 482-7945, or submit the form provided at http://tcc.export.gov/Report_a_Barrier/reportatradebarrier_russia.asp .

10. Political and Security Environment

Russia continues to restrict the fundamental freedoms of expression, assembly, and association by cracking down on political opposition, independent media, and civil society.  Since July 2012, Russia has passed a series of laws giving the government the authority to label NGOs as “foreign agents” if they receive foreign funding, greatly restricting the activities of these organizations.  To date, more than 150 NGOs have been labelled foreign agents.  A law enacted in May 2015 authorizes the government to designate a foreign organization as “undesirable” if it is deemed to pose a threat to national security or national interests.  As of April 2020, 22 foreign organizations were included on this list.  (https://minjust.ru/ru/activity/nko/unwanted )

According to the Russian Supreme Court, 7,763 individuals were convicted of economic crimes in 2019; the Russian business community alleges many of these cases stemmed from commercial disputes.  Potential investors should be aware of the risk of commercial disputes being criminalized.  Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan, and neighboring regions in the northern Caucasus have a high risk of violence and kidnapping.

Public protests continue to occur intermittently in Moscow and other cities.  In July and August 2019 in Moscow, large protests took place to voice frustration with the banning of opposition candidates from running in September municipal elections.  Some protests were marred by police brutality and indiscriminate arrests of participants and innocent bystanders.  In April, the Russian government imposed self-isolation orders in an effort to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Protesters could not gather in person but did so virtually through on-line platforms, demanding the government provide social assistance or lift restrictions.

Investment Climate Statements
Edit Your Custom Report

01 / Select A Year

02 / Select Sections

03 / Select Countries You can add more than one country or area.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future