Doing Business In..2020 features 46 jurisdictions. The guide covers local legal systems, foreign investment, corporate vehicles, employment law, tax, competition law, intellectual property and data protection.
Last Updated: July 15, 2020
The second edition of Chambers Global Practice Guides: Doing Business In... was prepared in an extraordinary context. A few months before its release, the world was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic that has prompted what is likely to be the greatest economic depression since the Second World War.
No country is immune to the consequences of the pandemic. In the short term, the global economy and international trade have been paralysed due to the confinement of millions of workers, the suspension or closure of many businesses and the restrictions on the international transportation of people and goods.
In response to this unprecedented level of disruption, governments around the world took bold and immediate measures. The main objective was to offer support to businesses through stimulus funds, tax incentives or unemployment funding, in order to avoid a massive wave of lay-offs and bankruptcies. Legal and administrative frameworks were also adapted to allow companies to continue doing business in spite of mass confinement and the shutdown of public services.
Unprecedented questions and challenges arose, such as how companies can hold general shareholders’ meetings, file for merger clearance or register a share capital reduction. As a result, we witnessed an intense law-making fever, with new employment, tax or corporate regulations being enacted in record times. While some of these new laws are circumstantial, others are here to stay.
In the middle to long-term, it is difficult to predict what consequences the pandemic will have on legal frameworks around the world. We noted in last years’ edition of this guide that powerful forces were at play, which placed increased constraints on international trade and investments. These forces could be reinforced and lead to legal reforms. By way of example, in the early stages of the pandemic, some governments reacted by enacting or strengthening foreign investment screening rules, in anticipation of attempts by foreign companies to acquire weakened national champions in sensitive industries. A debate is also taking place in Europe and the USA on repatriating plants and industrial sites from abroad to ensure the independent supply of critical products and services. It remains to be seen whether and how this will be implemented.
However, that said, people, companies and markets are inter-connected as never before. Globalisation may evolve, but it is unlikely to go away. Foreign direct investments and cross-border M&A transactions have significantly decreased in the first half of 2020, but they are expected to rebound. In this highly integrated world, national laws are required to constantly adapt to the international environment, as well as other contingencies such as the challenges of new economic and technological progress.
This year’s edition of the Doing Business Inguide reflects the laws and regulations enacted by many countries around the world as an initial response to the pandemic. We hope this guide will serve as a reference for lawyers and investors looking to understand the basic principles guiding the legal system of the contemplated jurisdictions in the aftermath of COVID-19. Because the experts for each jurisdiction have followed a common template, readers can easily compare the rules applicable in each jurisdiction.
I would like to thank all the participating contributors for their efforts in creating this new addition to the Chambers Global Practice Guides series, which we will continue to update on an annual basis.