ASEAN Tax Guide

ASEAN Tax Guide

In 2007, the 10 states comprising The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) signed the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint, agreeing to form an economic community to transform ASEAN into a single market and production base with free movement of goods, services, investment, skilled labour, and freer flow of capital. KPMG's ASEAN Tax Guide, outlines the tax changes we can expect, or are already seeing, in ASEAN, and contains summaries of the tax systems of ASEAN member states.

ASEAN Tax Guide

AEC is scheduled for establishment by December 2015 (a recent shift from January 2015), although commentators and experts agree that a fully integrated economic community in the region will not exist for some time – 2015 is just the beginning.

AEC presents an opportunity for ASEAN member states to create a competitive regional environment, and it holds the potential to transform ASEAN into the world’s next economic powerhouse.

ASEAN governments must also plan for expected changes. Governments face extensive to-do lists in anticipation of AEC 2015 – the Blueprint outlines many legislative and policy changes expected of ASEAN member states before the region can fully integrate. The Blueprint is fairly quiet from a taxation point of view, with tax only mentioned directly twice:

  • Enhance the withholding tax structure, where possible, to promote the broadening of investor base in ASEAN debt issuance (Item 31, Action iv, AEC Blueprint) 
  • ASEAN member countries should complete the network of bilateral agreements on avoidance among all member countries by 2010 (Item 58, AEC Blueprint).

Despite this, there are a number of other changes expected where we can infer amendments to tax policies, including:

  • The recognisation of intellectual property as a major determinant of local value added and external competitiveness (Item 44) 
  • A call to harmonise the policy and legal infrastructure for e-commerce (Item 59) 
  • An objective to realize a more comprehensive investment agreement which would increase investor confidence in ASEAN (Item 26) and provide enhanced protection to all investors and investments (Item 27). 

So while the Blueprint does not call for any large transformative tax reforms in the region, there are a number of changes that we can expect or are already seeing. let us explore a few of these.

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