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Macao Country Report

Country Risk Level


Overview

Executive Summary

Macao SAR’s government will continue favourable pro-business measures, including tax concessions, towards gaming industries because of the severe disruption caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) virus pandemic. The number of visitors to the territory has declined sharply, and many gaming tables continue to suspend operations. Macao is a special administrative region of mainland China. It is the world’s largest gaming market. Macanese politics is highly pro-Beijing, with the opposition largely marginalised. Macao is actively attempting to diversify to other sectors, with the Monetary Authority of Macao submitting plans to Beijing to establish an offshore RMB-based securities exchange to grow its financial sector.Although Macao’s gaming revenues have declined sharply since 2014 because of mainland China’s corruption crackdown and will be sensitive to slowing mainland Chinese growth, the government’s strong fiscal position enables it to avoid reductions to social programmes and public-sector salaries and the stability of the incumbent administration is largely unshaken. The government has adopted preferential policies to encourage business development outside gaming, although gaming is likely to dominate the economy for the foreseeable future.Triad criminal groups are active in the gaming industry, but they seldom threaten foreign businesses.

Operational Outlook

The influence of organised criminal groups has been reduced, but they remain active. Risks of violent crimes increase during downturns in Macao’s gaming sector, since such downturns reduce the income criminal groups derive from non-violent, legal/quasi-legal channels. In the first half of 2019, 295 cases of loan-sharking-related crimes connected to gambling were reported, a 16.1% year-on-year increase. However, increased police patrols in and around casinos and closer police collaboration with the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau have been successful at curbing such crimes. Separately, basic infrastructure of the territory has been substantially upgraded since the return to Chinese sovereignty in 1999 and will continue to receive further investment from mainland China.

Terrorism

Terrorism risk is negligible in Macao SAR, with no known non-state armed groups operating in or from the territory.

Crime

Despite the tightening of anti-money-laundering rules – for instance, by making compliance and due diligence operational obligations – multinationals are likely to face a moderate risk from money laundering activities. In addition, companies involved in the gaming and financial services are facing an increasing risk from cyber crimes. Criminal gangs from Hong Kong SAR and Southeast Asia operate actively in Macao SAR, especially in the gaming industries, although they are highly unlikely to significantly disrupt the business environment for international companies. However, there had been incidents of violent attacks and threats against foreign lawyers based in Macao in connection to their legal work.

War Risks

None of mainland China's potential adversaries will probably target Macao SAR in a military conflict, and Macao's government faces no violent domestic threats.

Social Stability

Following Macao SAR's recovery from its economic recession in 2017, instances of labour unrest over unpaid salaries have subsided. Although there is some public dissatisfaction regarding real estate prices and the overbearing gaming industry and its long work hours, pro-democratic opposition has generally been mild in its criticism of government policies. There is little indication therefore of the emergence of any major protest movement similar to that in Hong Kong SAR. When the anti-extradition bill protests broke out in Hong Kong in June 2019, demonstrations of the kind authorised by Hong Kong authorities were banned by Macao law enforcement.

Risk Level
Critical High Medium Low Minimal