Consulting

The Affordable Care Act – It'S Time To Start Counting Hours

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By Melissa Weaver and Julie Song, Brooks Pierce

The 2010 enactment of the Affordable Care Act ("ACA" or the "Act") ushered in an enormous social reform effort aimed at improving the nation's health care system through a series of mandates, premium subsidies, and taxes. Although the full impact of the Act will not be known for years to come, its intended goals were to expand health insurance coverage and to reduce costs. After much discussion and debate, as well as legal challenges all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, implementation of the ACA is upon us. As a result, employers must comply with the Act's myriad requirements, the most significant of which become effective on January 1, 2014. Regulatory guidance is pouring forth, and it is not too early for employers to determine how the rules of the Act apply to their businesses. In fact, employers with calendar-year plans may want to take action as soon as next month.

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Consulting

Standardisation of External Border Security for the Schengen States Continues

With the Schengen Accord, the free movement of persons was won as a major, visible accomplishment for citizens as border controls between the member states were eliminated. Now the standardised exchange of information at the external borders of the Schengen contract territory is intended to compensate for the possible loss of security due to the elimination of internal borders. This will be accomplished with the Schengen Information System (SIS), which is now being implemented in its second generation.

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Consulting

Large Wage Differential in Europe

The average wage costs between the EU states differ by a factor of ten. Bringing up the rear in terms of labour costs per hour are Bulgaria at EUR 3.70, Romania at EUR 4.40, Lithuania at EUR 5.80 and Latvia at EUR 6.00. The leader is Sweden with an average hourly wage of EUR 39.00. These figures for last year were presented on 10 April 2013 by Eurostat, the EU statistical office. Accordingly the statistical average wage in the European Union is EUR 23.40 per working hour and EUR 28.00 in the 17 states of the Eurozone.

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EU Plans to Crack Down on Dumping Imports

The EU Commission presented its proposal to combat dumping and government-subsidised imports on 10 April 2013. Plans are in place to modernise the system to protect against unfair trade practices of foreign companies, which has remained largely unchanged since 1995. The proposals merely require the consent of the European Parliament and Council.

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Luxury goods on the edge?

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By Urban B. Eberle and Eduard Werder, Bank Alpinum

Is the boom in the luxury goods sector coming to an end? Investors were stunned by the subdued forecasts for the current year issued by consumer goods groups including LVMH and Richemont. The weakening of momentum in China, in particular, is raising a few concerns. Is it time to beat a retreat from the luxury goods sector?

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Relief from EU Consequential Costs for SMEs

The EU Commission has determined that the 20.8 million small to midsize enterprises (SMEs) in the European Union employ two-thirds of the workforce and are responsible for 85 percent of new jobs that are created. Yet EU legislative acts often place a burden on them in particular. On 20 March 2013, the EU Commission took a first step to provide relief for SMEs by lowering fees for chemicals.

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EU coordinates negotiating position for free trade talks with the USA

On 12 March 2013 the European Commission in Brussels agreed on a draft mandate for negotiations with the USA about the planned transatlantic free trade agreement. Now the EU member states have to approve the draft in the European Council. Then the negotiations can begin. EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht explained the subsequent schedule: "I am very pleased that the European Commission has already prepared a draft mandate for future negotiations, just one month after the EU and the USA announced the decision to pursue this revolutionary trade agreement. I hope that the approval of the member states is going to follow quickly, so that working with the United States can begin even before the summer break."

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EU Commission backs up the financial transaction tax

Eleven EU Member States have asked the European Commission to introduce a financial transaction tax (FTT) within the framework referred to as enhanced cooperation. The Commission gave the green light on February 14, 2013, since all legal requirements for the project were met. The eleven participating countries expect tax income of 30 to 35 billion euros per year. In addition, the financial transaction tax should ensure a fairer contribution by the financial sector to the national budgets.

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Consulting

Investment in the mining industry in Mexico

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By Rodolfo Sánchez-Arellano, New Corporate Approach, S.C.

According to information from the Mexican Geological Survey, Mexico has 23 sites classified as giant (world class) and six labelled super giants. Backed by the strong price of metals, mining investment in Mexico offers an excellent opportunity.

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