Saudi Arabia: an emerging business center

Expansion to Saudi Arabia: An emerging business center

Expansion to Saudi Arabia: An emerging business center

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has emerged as a compelling destination for businesses seeking new opportunities and growth. With ambitious economic reforms, strategic initiatives, and a dynamic business landscape, the Kingdom is poised to become the next global business center. Saudi Arabia’s hype and the fact it is attracting increasing attention from businesses around the world is not based on luck.

Saudi Arabia’s non-oil sector contributed 50% of GDP for the first time last year. With the country’s unprecedented economic transformation well underway, the horizon for Saudi Arabia is bright with the promise of continued growth.

  1. Vision 2030: At the heart of Saudi Arabia’s transformation is Vision 2030, launched in 2016, a bold and ambitious blueprint for diversifying the economy, reducing dependency on oil, and fostering sustainable growth across various sectors. Through Vision 2030, the Kingdom has managed to create a vibrant and competitive business environment that attracts investment, stimulates innovation, and drives economic prosperity as well as promoting a sustainable community.
  1. Strategic Location: Situated at the crossroads of three continents, Saudi Arabia enjoys a strategic geographic location that positions it as a gateway to lucrative markets in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. With modern infrastructure, world-class transportation networks, and state-of-the-art logistics facilities, the Kingdom offers unparalleled access to global trade routes and investment opportunities.
  1. Economic Diversification: In line with Vision 2030 objectives, Saudi Arabia is actively diversifying its economy by investing in non-oil sectors, for instance tourism, entertainment, technology, healthcare, renewable energy, and manufacturing. These strategic investments are creating new business opportunities, fostering innovation, and driving sustainable growth across diverse industries.
  1. Business-Friendly Reforms: The Saudi government has implemented several business-friendly reforms to streamline regulations, enhance the ease of doing business, and attract foreign investment. As a result, these reforms include initiatives to simplify company registration procedures, improve intellectual property protection, and enhance transparency and accountability in the business environment.
  1. Investment Incentives: Saudi Arabia offers a range of incentives and support mechanisms to attract foreign investment, including tax incentives, financial incentives, and access to government grants and subsidies. Additionally, the Kingdom has established special economic zones and investment hubs to encourage investment in strategic sectors and regions.
  1. Thriving Business Ecosystem: Saudi Arabia boasts a thriving business ecosystem characterized by a skilled workforce, vibrant entrepreneurship culture, and robust support infrastructure. From incubators and accelerators to venture capital funds and innovation centers, the Kingdom offers a conducive environment for startups, SMEs, and multinational corporations alike to thrive and grow.

Saudi Arabia’s strategic vision, geographic location, economic diversification efforts, business-friendly reforms, investment incentives, and thriving business ecosystem position it as the next business center on the global stage. As businesses increasingly recognize the Kingdom’s potential, demand for expansion to Saudi Arabia is increasing dramatically as the country is poised to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of regional and international trade, investment, and innovation.

Stricter rules by Council and Parliament regarding Anti-Money Laundering (AML)

AML: Stricter rules by Council and Parliament

The Council and Parliament of the EU provisionally agreed upon upgrading several parts of the anti-money laundering package, aiming to protect EU citizens and the EU’s financial system against money laundering and terrorist financing.

Under the new agreement, the rules applicable to the private sector will be transferred to a new regulation, while the organization of AML/CFT combat systems at Member State level will be regulated by a relevant directive.

The provisional agreement on an anti-money laundering regulation will, for the first time, exhaustively harmonise rules throughout the EU.

The updates of the AML package are separated in two main pillars as follows:

1. Anti-money laundering regulation

Obliged entities: The list of obliged entities has been expanded to include new bodies which are the crypto-asset service providers (CASPs), traders of luxury goods and professional football clubs and agents. The due diligence and reporting obligations vary depending on the type of entity. Also, obliged entities will need to apply enhanced due diligence measures to occasional transactions and business relationships involving high-risk third countries which could be a threat to the integrity of the EU’s internal market.
B. Enhanced due diligence: Specific enhanced due diligence measures will apply to cross-border correspondent relationships for crypto-asset service providers, while credit and financial institutions will follow more specific and strengthened due diligence measures when assessing high net-worth individuals with large amounts of assets.
C. Cash payments: The EU-wide maximum limit for cash payments is set to €10.000 while member states may use their discretion to impose a lower maximum limit. Moreover, obliged entities should identify and verify the identity of an individual carrying out an occasional transaction in cash between €3.000-€10.000.
D. Beneficial ownership: The rules on beneficial ownership and multi-layered ownership and control structures are clarified, beneficial ownership is based on two components – ownership and control. The beneficial ownership threshold is set at 25% and applies to both EU entities and non-EU entities doing business or buying property in the EU. Registration of the beneficial ownership of all foreign entities that own real estate with retroactivity until 1 January 2014.
E. High-risk third countries: Enhanced due diligence measures will be required for the occasional transactions and business relationships involving high-risk third countries.

2. The 6th Anti-money laundering directive

A. Beneficial ownership registers: The information submitted to the central register should be verified, while sanctioned entities or individuals should be flagged. The entities in charge of the registers are authorized to inspect the premises of the registered legal entities if deemed necessary, while persons of the public with legitimate interest, including press and civil society, may also access the registers. In addition, real estate registers should be accessible to competent authorities through a single access point, to facilitate investigations of criminal cases.
B. Financial intelligence unit (FIU) responsibilities: The FIU of each member state will have immediate and direct access to financial, administrative and law enforcement information and will continue to share information to competent authorities while ensuring that fundamental rights are taken into consideration. Furthermore, the agreement sets out the context in which FIUs will be able to suspend or withhold consent for a transaction under investigation.
C. Supervision: All obliged entities are subject to adequate and effective supervision and suspicious behaviour will be reported to the member state’s FIU. In addition, new supervisory measures will apply to the non-financial sector, by the so-called supervisory colleges, and the new Anti-Money Laundering Authority (AMLA) will prepare draft regulatory technical standards.
D. Risk assessment: The Commission will carry out an EU level evaluation and provide recommendation to member states with regards to the risk assessment they carry out, aiming to effectively mitigate any money laundering and terrorist financing risks.

The legislative proposals are pending approval before being formally adopted and entered into force by the Council and the Parliament. This provisional agreement will carefully align EU rules, minimize possible risks of unlawful activities in the financial system, and strengthen the national AML systems for combating fraudulent and illegal proceeds.

Official source here