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ICYMI: What & where - locational updates for better managing global mobility

This, our latest bi-weekly locational update post, takes a look at a few different countries with events and occurrences that might impact your global mobility program. 

  1. Japan: For some time, Japan has been the one of the countries least impacted by Covid deaths. However, this winter, with one of the oldest populations in the word, it is currently experiencing its biggest pandemic outbreak. Death rates are still some of the lowest in the world, but trends are showing an increase in infections. According to Bloomberg, "designated Covid hospitals were overwhelmed by the rapid increase of patients during the wave that started in October and turned patients away".
  2. Canada: In case you missed our previous post with updates related to the regulations of the "Prohibition on the Purchase of Residential Property by Non-Canadians Act", you may want to head over and get acquainted with the issues mobility programs will need to consider. Also, per our friends at Envoy Global, the Canadian government announced that passport application processing has returned to pre-pandemic timelines. The average processing time is ten days for in-person submissions and 20 days for mailed submissions. 98% of the backlog has been resolved. And lastly, starting in January 2023 through a temporary 2-year measure, Canada will expand eligibility to work in Canada to spouses and working-age children through a phased approach for workers at all skill levels. 
  3. European Union: Again from Envoy Global, The European Travel Information and Authorization System, known as ETIAS, is expected to become fully effective in November 2023. Once fully implemented, it will become a mandatory pre-condition for visa-exempt nationals from outside the European Union to enter any Schengen member state. Visitors who do not require a visa to enter the Schengen Area and who reside in a country outside of the EU, noted here as third-country nationals, will be required to register their travel through the ETIAS. Work authorization requirements in each member state are also expected to be assessed prior to any entry into the Schengen Area, when applicable.
  4. Netherlands: Crisis24 is following a unionized nationwide bus and train strike from Feb 6-10, which will create business and travel disruptions. 
  5. United Kingdom: According to The Telegraph, property prices in the UK started to fall on a monthly basis at the end of 2022, but the real downturn is about to hit as the market reels from the effects of soaring mortgage rates. They have created a new resource for tracking the market and making predictions. The latest showed price falls bottoming out in 2024, after a fall from peak average prices. 
  6. Hungary: Our friends at AIRINC note that the U.S. has terminated, as of January 8th, the Income Tax Treaty that has been in force since 1979. This comes as a direct result of Hungary's opposition of the EU's  implementation of a global corporate minimum income tax rate of 15%. For global mobility professionals, the dissolution may result in future higher tax costs for short-term assignments between the two countries. 
  7. Switzerland: Switzerland is relaxing work permit rules for highly skilled non-EU nationals. Berry Appleman & Leiden report that employers hiring highly skilled nationals of non-EU countries in an occupation on the skills shortage list no longer need to conduct labor market tests. These nationals can obtain a residence permit without having a university degree. Instead, such individuals must have training qualifications or at least five years of professional experience. Occupations that may be included are managers (exec level), engineering occupations, scientists, researchers in mathematics, healthcare professions, and teachers at universities.
  8. Peru: On Feb. 5, Peru declared a 60-day state of emergency in the departments of Apurimac, Arequipa, Cusco, Madre de Dios, Moquegua, Puno, and Tacna in response to ongoing unrest. Additionally, a nationwide indefinite strike is planned from Feb. 9th.
  9. United States: According to Moody's Analytics, rising mortgage rates caused many households to be priced out from home buying, forcing would-be buyers to remain renters. Apartment demand surged as a result and drove rates sky high. As the disparity between rent growth and income growth widens, American’s wallets feel financial distress as wage growth trails rent growth. The national average rent-to-income (RTI) reached 30% for the first time in Moody's 20+ years of tracking history. See the Axios chart below for average rents at the end of Q4 2022 and the annual percent change. Looking out further, U.S. rent prices are also expected to rise further this year!
  10. China: Is this Covid wave over? China says 80,000 people died in its recent outbreak, but a survey of top academics’ obituaries suggests the toll may be larger. China’s official Covid death tally almost halved in the week following the Spring Festival holiday. Per Global Times, "Because of the possible emergence of new variants and waning antibody levels among the populations, China is expected to see a fresh wave of epidemic rebound around June or July, the anonymous CDC expert warned." Additionally, the mainland has just fully reopened its border with Hong Kong and Macao and dropped Covid test requirements. 
  11. Hong Kong: Bloomberg reports that "Almost everywhere in the world has stopped demanding universal mask-wearing to control Covid, though the mouth-and-nose coverings are required in some areas like public transportation and health-care facilities. A notable exception is Hong Kong, where they must be worn at all times in public – even outdoors – with a few concessions (such as when you are eating). A spot fine of HK$5,000 ($637) awaits those who break the law."
  12. Russia: While there may not be much global mobility activity for western countries into Russia, if and when things change, Moscow's Safe City will be there waiting. This surveillance system has developed from an initial focus on to tackling crime, now dedicated to managing crowds and better responding to emergencies. With added facial recognitions capabilities from a network of more than 200,000 cameras, Safe City also incorporates data from 169 information systems, managing data on citizens, public services, transportation, and nearly everything else that makes up Moscow’s infrastructure. Notably, it does not safeguard individual privacy and is now being used to track and arrest activists and dissenters. Moscow now ranks 6th on the list of the top 10 most surveilled cities outside of China (based on the number of cameras per 1,000 people).
  13. Turkey: Following a 7.8 magnitude earthquake on Monday, Feb. 6th, the death toll has risen to more than 5,000 people in affected regions of Turkey and Syria. Key infrastructure, including major roads, has been affected as well, which is hampering travel. These regions are not common locations for international moves and assignments, but we are continuing to monitor the situation and send out updates as we get information. 

One additional great resource: In effectively managing a global mobility program, ensuring duty of care is always a core responsibility. Staying aware of travel risk issues and utilizing best practices are likely priorities and this webinar from GBTA on Feb 15th might be of value! 

Japan is no longer the best-performing wealthy nation when it comes to avoiding Covid deaths. The country, which has one of the oldest populations in the world, is quietly experiencing its biggest outbreak of the pandemic. A wave of omicron infections overwhelmed its health system this winter and delayed medical care for patients, sending daily deaths to a record high of more than 500 on Jan. 14, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.


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