New e-commerce law, tax reforms to affect foreign businesses in China

Foreign firms need to address a host of recent regulatory developments in China ranging from a new e-commerce law to tax reforms and investigations, Tan Lee Lee, Country Head of Business Advisory at SBA Stone Forest, said at our recent China Briefing seminar.

The session included HR policy updates for social benefit schemes, expatriates’ work and residence permits, as well as Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan residents. It also examined amendments to China’s Individual Income Tax (IIT) Law that will take effect from 1 January 2019.

Lee Lee noted that while less pre-approvals are now required for tax assessment, post-investigations by tax authorities are expected to increase. “There is no time bar for tax inspections and how far back they will look,” she said. “The authorities encourage self-adjustment and self-declaration for small enterprises when a tax risk notice is issued.”

Participants also heard from Labbrand on how to successfully build a brand in China. “Having a localised brand name that speaks to consumers through an understanding of local nuances will help to capture the audience’s hearts,” said Melyssa Koh, Labbrand's Asia Managing Director. She added that while international brands can survive without a Chinese name, local consumers might create nicknames for such brands, which can present an intellectual property risk.

Labbrand's Creative Director Judy Wang noted that customer journeys in China are mainly experienced through mobile devices. “Companies need to utilise customers’ usual communication channels and integrate with their lifestyles to maximise outreach during the customer journey,” she said.

The seminar was held on 15 November 2018 with the theme, ‘Legislative Updates and Building a Brand in China’.