MESA is a diverse and rapidly growing region spanning across the wider Middle East, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and South Asia. Each country within these clusters has its own distinct characteristic, demonstrated by variations in their tax and regulatory regime as well as economic and financial environment.

As governments continue to reform their regulatory framework and focus on monetary and fiscal measures to improve ease of doing business, we believe that a publication such as this couldn’t be more timely than ever, covering 14 countries and providing a summary of key regulations governing investments and businesses of corporates operating in these countries.

While a few constituent economies are outliers owing to their current socio-political environment, there are many common themes emerging from the tax and regulatory landscape of the region. Some of these are:

  • Investor fraternity continuing to believe in the economic potential of the region.
  • Economies projecting themselves in positive light to boost trade, investments and attract foreign capital.
  • Fiscal deficit/surplus position influencing tax policies.
  • Governments realizing the need to simplify procedural formalities and enhance the efficiency of administrative machinery.
  • Businesses readying themselves to embrace the cascading impact of global developments, such as Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS), Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and the Common Reporting Standard (CRS).
  • Introduction of taxes in the GCC such as Value Added Tax (VAT) and Excise Tax.
  • Economies acknowledging the interdependence on other countries, within the region, as well as globally – depicted by widening tax treaty network and bilateral trade agreements.

In this guide, we have summarized the framework of doing business in each of the countries and identified key tax and regulatory provisions which need due consideration by investors and corporates, operating in the MESA region.