2019 Investment Climate Statements: Denmark
Denmark is regarded by many independent observers as one the world’s most attractive business environments and is characterized by political, economic, and regulatory stability. It is a member of the European Union (EU) and Danish legislation and regulations conform to EU standards on virtually all issues. It maintains a fixed exchange rate policy, with the Danish Krone linked closely to the Euro. Denmark is a social welfare state with a thoroughly modern market economy reliant on free trade in goods and services. It is a net exporter of food, fossil fuels, chemicals and wind power, but depends on raw material imports for its manufacturing sector. Within the EU, Denmark is among the strongest supporters of liberal trade policy. Transparency International regularly ranks Denmark as having among the world’s lowest levels of perceived public sector corruption.
The Danish economy is enjoying a solid upswing. GDP growth averaged 2.0 percent annually over the last three years (2016 – 2018) and 2.3 percent 2015 – 2017. GDP grew 1.4 percent in 2018 but 2.6 percent Q4 2017 – Q4 2018. The Danish Government estimates that growth will continue at 1.7 percent in 2019 and 1.6 percent in 2020. . Employment is at a historical high with a labor force of 2,776,036, and unemployment at 3.7 percent at the start of 2019. Danish companies are performing well, and their willingness to invest in order to meet market demand is high. With the current low unemployment, the risk of labor bottleneck issues is increasing in certain sectors, mainly construction, where demand for skilled labor outstrips supply. Danish consumers enjoy increased purchasing power due to increased employment, low interest rates, and positive real wage trends. Observers believe the economy is at full capacity and that economic growth will continue in coming years, although as the competition for economic resources intensifies, it will likely become increasingly difficult to maintain growth rates at this level.
Denmark is an open economy, highly reliant on international trade, with exports accounting for about 55 percent of GDP. Developments in its major trading partners – Germany, Sweden, the United States and the UK – have substantial impact on Danish national accounts. Gross unemployment, a national definition, was 3.7 percent at the start of 2019, and is forecast to remain subdued in coming years. The OECD Harmonized Unemployment Rate was 5.0 percent in February 2019.
Denmark is a major international development assistance donor, having contributed DKK 16.3 billion (USD 2.6 billion) in 2018, with 68 percent of Danish assistance being bilateral and 32 percent multilateral. Denmark is one of six countries meeting the UN requirement of ODA contribution of 0.7 percent of GNI. Danish assistance in 2017 amounted to 0.74 percent of GNI.
The entrepreneurial climate, including female-led entrepreneurship, is strong; Denmark is a relatively large contributor to the World Bank’s Women Entrepreneurship Finance Facility with a USD 10.6 million contribution.
Underlying macroeconomic conditions in Denmark are sound, with an attractive investment climate. Denmark is strategically situated to link continental Europe with the Nordic and Baltic countries. Transport and communications infrastructures are efficient. Denmark is among world leaders in high-tech industries such as information technology, life sciences, clean energy technologies, and shipping.
Note: Separate reports on the investment climates for Greenland and for the Faroe Islands can be found at the end of this report.
Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
|TI Corruption Perceptions Index||2018||1 of 180||http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview|
|World Bank’s Doing Business Report||2019||3 of 190||http://www.doingbusiness.org/en/rankings|
|Global Innovation Index||2018||8 of 126||https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator|
|U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions)||2017||$13,873||http://www.bea.gov/international/factsheet/|
|World Bank GNI per capita||2017||$55,220||http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD|
1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment
Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment
A small country with an open economy, Denmark is highly dependent on foreign trade, with exports comprising the largest component (55 percent) of GDP. Danish trade and investment policies are liberal. In general, investment policies are forward-looking, aimed at fostering and developing businesses, especially in high-growth sectors. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) ranks Denmark second globally and first regionally on its business environment ranking. The EIU characterizes Denmark’s business environment as among the most attractive in the world, reflecting a sound macroeconomic framework, excellent infrastructure, low bureaucracy and a friendly policy towards private enterprise and competition. Principal concerns include a high personal tax burden, low productivity growth and uncertainties relating to Brexit, as the UK is a close trading partner that shares many of Denmark’s policy goals within the EU. Overall, however, operating conditions for companies should remain broadly favorable. Denmark scores top marks in various categories, including the political and institutional environment, macroeconomic stability, foreign investment policy, private enterprise policy, financing, and infrastructure.
As of January 2019, the EIU rated Denmark an “AA” country on its Country Risk Service, with a stable outlook. Sovereign risk rated “AA,” and political risk “AAA.” Denmark ranked tenth out of 140 on the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Global Competitiveness Report, third on the World Bank’s 2019 Doing Business ranking, and fifth on the EIU 2018 Democracy Index. “The Big Three” credit rating agencies Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s, and Fitch Group all score Denmark AAA.
“Invest in Denmark,” an agency of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and part of the Danish Trade Council, provides detailed information to potential investors. The website for the agency is www.investindk.com.
Corporate tax records of all companies, associations and foundations, which pay taxes in Denmark, were made public beginning in December 2012 and are updated annually. The corporate tax rate is 22 percent.
Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment
As an EU member state, Denmark is bound by EU rules on free movement of goods, capital, persons and certain services. Denmark welcomes foreign investment and does not distinguish between EU and other investors. There are no additional permits required by foreign investors, nor any reported bias against foreign companies from municipal or national authorities.
Denmark’s central and regional governments actively encourage foreign investment on a national-treatment basis, with relatively few limits on foreign control. A foreign or domestic private entity may freely establish, own, and dispose of a business enterprise in Denmark. The capital requirement for establishing a corporation (A/S) or Limited Partnership (P/S) is DKK 400,000 (approx. USD 63,317) and for establishing a private limited liability company (ApS) DKK 40,000 (approx. USD 6,331.
As of 15 April, it is no longer possible to set up an “Entrepreneurial Company” (IVS). The company type was intended to allow entrepreneurs a cheap and simple way to incorporate with limited liability, with a starting capital of only DKK1 (USD 0.16). Due to repeated instances of fraud and unintended use of the IVS, it has been abolished. Simultaneously, the capital requirements to set up a Private Limited Company were lowered, bringing Denmark more in line with other Scandinavian countries, and to ensure it will continue to be cheap and simple to establish limited liability companies in Denmark. Currently there are approx. 45,000 IVS in existence. These companies have a deadline of 2 years to re-register as Private Limited Companies (ApS), with a minimum capital of DKK 40,000. If they fail to re-register, they will be forcibly dissolved. No restrictions apply regarding the residency of directors and managers.
Since October 2004, any private entity may establish a European public limited company (SE company) in Denmark. The legal framework of an SE company is subject to Danish corporate law, but it is possible to change the nationality of the company without liquidation and re-founding. An SE company must be registered at the Danish Business Authority if the official address of the company is in Denmark. The minimum capital requirement is EUR 120,000 (approx. USD 135,000).
Danish professional certification and/or local Danish experience are required to provide professional services in Denmark. In some instances, Denmark may accept an equivalent professional certification from other EU or Nordic countries on a reciprocal basis. EU-wide residency requirements apply to the provision of legal and accountancy services.
Ownership restrictions are applied in the following sectors:
- Hydrocarbon exploration: Requires 20 percent Danish government participation on a “non-carried interest” basis.
- Defense materials: The law governing foreign ownership of Danish defense companies (L538 of May 26, 2010) stipulates that the Minister of Justice has to approve foreign ownership of more than 40 percent of the equity or more than 20 percent of the voting rights, or if foreign interests gain a controlling share in a defense company doing business in Denmark. This approval is generally granted unless there are security or other foreign policy considerations weighing against approval.
- Maritime: There are foreign (non-EU resident) ownership requirements on Danish-flagged vessels other than those owned by an enterprise incorporated in Denmark. Ships owned by Danish citizens, Danish partnerships or Danish limited liability companies are eligible for registration in the Danish International Ships Register (DIS). Ships owned by EU or European Economic Area (EEA) entities with a genuine link to Denmark are also eligible for registration, and foreign companies with a significant Danish interest can register a ship in the DIS.
- Aviation: For an airline to be established in Denmark it must have majority ownership and be effectively controlled by an EU state or a national of an EU state, unless otherwise provided for through an international agreement to which the EU is a signatory.
- Securities Trading: Non-resident financial institutions may engage in securities trading on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange only through subsidiaries incorporated in Denmark.
- Real Estate: Purchases of designated vacation properties, or ‘summer houses’, are restricted to citizens of Denmark. Such properties cannot be inhabited year-round, and are located in municipally designated ‘summer house area’ zones, typically near coastlines. EU citizens and companies from EU member states can purchase any type of real estate, except vacation properties, without prior authorization from the authorities. Companies and individuals from non-EU countries that have been present/resident in Denmark for at least five years in total and are currently resident in Denmark can also purchase real estate, except vacation properties, without prior authorization. Non-EU companies or individuals that do not meet these requirements can only purchase real estate with the permission of the Danish Ministry of Justice. Permission is freely given to people with a Danish residency permit, except with regard to purchases of vacation properties.
Other Investment Policy Reviews
The most recent UNCTAD review of Denmark occurred in March 2013, available here: http://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/webdiaeia2013d2_en.pdf. There is no specific mention of Denmark in the latest WTO Trade Policy Review of the European Union, revised in October 2017.
An EU Commission Staff Working Paper on the investment environment in Denmark is available here: https://ec.europa.eu/info/business-economy-euro/economic-and-fiscal-policy-coordination/eu-economic-governance-monitoring-prevention-correction/european-semester/european-semester-your-country/denmark_en while a 2015 private sector investment and taxation review by Deloitte can be found here: http://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/Tax/dttl-tax-denmarkguide-2015.pdf.
Denmark ranked first out of 175 in Transparency International’s 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index. It received a ranking of 3 out of 190 for “Ease of Doing Business” in the World Bank’s 2019 Doing Business Report, placing it first in Europe. In the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness report for 2018, Denmark was ranked 10 out of 140 countries.
The World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) Global Innovation Index ranked Denmark 8 out of 126 in 2018
The Danish Business Authority (DBA) is responsible for business registrations in Denmark. As a part of the Danish Business Authority, “Business in Denmark” provides information on relevant Danish rules and online registrations to foreign companies in English. The Danish business registration website is www.virk.dk. It is the main digital tool for licensing and registering companies in Denmark and offers a business registration processes that is clear and complete.
Registration of sole proprietorships and partnerships is free of charge, while there is a fee for registration of other business types: DKK 670 (USD 106) if the registration is done digitally and DKK 2150 (USD 340) if the registration form is sent by e-mail or post.
The process for establishing a new business is distinct from that of registration. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs “Invest in Denmark” program provides a step-by-step guide to establishing a business, along with other relevant resources which can be found here: www.investindk.com/Downloads.The services are free of charge and available to all investors, regardless of country of origin.
Processing time for establishing a new business varies depending on the chosen business entity. Establishing a Danish Limited Liability Company (Anpartsselskab – ApS), for example, generally takes four to six weeks for a standard application. Establishing a sole proprietorship (Enkeltmandsvirksomhed) is simpler, with processing generally taking about one week.
Those providing temporary services in Denmark must provide their company details to the Registry of Foreign Service Providers (RUT). The website (www.virk.dk) provides English guidance on how to register a service with RUT. A digital employee’s signature, referred to as a NemID, is required for those wishing to register a foreign company in Denmark. A CPR number (a 10-digit personal identification number) and valid ID are needed to obtain a NemID, though not Danish citizenship.
In the Danish Financial Statements Act no. 1580 of 10 January 2015 section 7(2), small enterprises are defined as enterprises with fewer than 50 employees and whose annual turnover does not exceed DKK 89 million (approx. USD 13.6 million) or annual balance sheet total does not exceed DKK 44 million (approx. USD 6.7 million). Medium-sized enterprises are defined as enterprises with fewer than 250 employees and either have an annual turnover that does not exceed DKK 313 million (approx. USD 47.5 million) or annual balance sheet total does not exceed DKK 156 million (approx. USD 23.7 million).
Danish companies are not restricted from investing abroad, and Danish outward investment has exceeded inward investments for more than a decade.
2. Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation Treaties
The United States and Denmark have shared a Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation Treaty since 1961 that, among other things, ensures National Treatment, Most-Favored Nation status, transparency of the regulatory process, and competitive equality with state-owned enterprises. Denmark has concluded investment protection agreements with the following 47 countries (including Hong Kong): Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Croatia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Hungary, Indonesia, Kuwait, Laos, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Nicaragua, North Korea, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, Venezuela, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe. Denmark has signed investment protection agreements with Brazil, Cuba, Kyrgyzstan and Paraguay, but these currently await ratification. There has been little change to the status of these investment protection agreements since the enactment of the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty, which moved competency to the EU Commission.
The U.S.-Danish Bilateral Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income has been in force since 2000. In May 2006, an amending protocol was signed; the most important aspect relates to the elimination of withholding tax on cross-border dividend payments. On November 19, 2012, the United States and Denmark signed an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) to implement the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).
3. Legal Regime
Transparency of the Regulatory System
The judicial system is extremely well-regarded and considered fair. The legal system is independent of the legislative branch of the government and is based on a centuries-old legal tradition. It includes written and consistently applied commercial and bankruptcy laws. Secured interests in property are recognized and enforced. The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) 2018 Global Competitiveness Report, which ranks Denmark as the world’s tenth most competitive economy and fifth among EU member states, characterizes it as having among the best functioning and most transparent institutions in the world. Denmark ranks high on specific WEF indices related to macroeconomic stability (1st), labor market (5th), business dynamism (12th), ICT adoption (8th) and innovative capabilities (12th).
In an effort to facilitate business administration, Denmark maintains only two “legislative days” per year—January 1st and July 1st—the only days on which new laws and regulations affecting the business sector can come into effect. Danish laws and policies granting national treatment to foreign investments are designed to increase FDI in Denmark. Denmark consistently applies high standards with regard to health, environment, safety, and labor laws. Danish corporate law is generally in conformity with current EU legislation. The legal, regulatory and accounting systems are relatively transparent and in accordance with international standards. Bureaucratic procedures are streamlined and transparent, and proposed laws and regulations are published in draft form for public comment. Public finances and debt obligations are transparent.
As of December 19, 2012, the Ministry of Taxation made all companies’ corporate tax records public, and it updates and publicizes them annually. The publication is intended to increase transparency and public scrutiny of corporate tax payments. Greenland and the Faroe Islands retain autonomy with regards to tax policy.
The government uses transparent policies and effective laws to foster competition and establish “clear rules of the game,” consistent with international norms and applicable equally to Danish and foreign entities. The Danish Competition and Consumer Authority work to make markets well-functioning so businesses compete efficiently on all parameters. The Authority is a government agency under the Danish Ministry of Industry, Business and Financial Affairs. It enforces the Danish Competition Act. The purpose of the Act and Danish consumer legislation is to promote efficient resource allocation in society, to prevent the restriction of efficient competition, to create a level playing field for enterprises and to protect consumers.
Publicly listed companies in Denmark must adhere to the Danish Financial Statements Act when preparing their annual reports. The accounting principles are International Accounting Standards (IAS), International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and Danish Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). Financial statements must be prepared annually. The Danish Financial Statements Act covers all businesses.
Private limited companies, public limited companies and corporate funds are obliged to prepare financial statements in accordance with which accounting class the company should follow based on size, as follows:
- Small businesses (Class B): Total assets of DKK 44 million (USD 6.7 million), net revenue of DKK 89 million (USD 13.5 million), average number of full-time employees during the financial year of 50.
- Medium-sized enterprises (Class C medium): Total assets of DKK 156 million (USD 23.7 million), net revenue of DKK 313 million (USD 47.5 million), average number of full-time employees during the financial year of 250.
- Large companies (Class C large): Companies that are neither small nor medium companies.
According to the Danish Financial Statements Act, personally owned businesses, personally owned general partnerships (multiple owners) and general funds are characterized as Class A and thus have no requirement to prepare financial statements unless the owner voluntarily chooses to do so.
All government draft proposed regulations are published at the portal for public hearings, “Høringsportalen” (www.hoeringsportalen.dk), to solicit inputs from interested parties. After receiving feedback and possibly undergoing amendments, proposed regulations are published at the Danish Parliament’s website (www.ft.dk). Final regulations are published at www.lovtidende.dk and www.ft.dk. All ministries and agencies are required to publish proposed regulations. Denmark has a World Bank composite score of “4.75” for the Global Indicators of Regulatory Governance, on a 0 – 5 scale. With respect to governance, the World Bank suggests the following areas for improvement:
- Affected parties cannot request reconsideration or appeal adopted regulations to the relevant administrative agency;
- There is no existing requirement that regulations be periodically reviewed to see whether they are still needed or should be revised.
International Regulatory Considerations
Denmark adheres to the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMs); no inconsistencies have been reported.
Legal System and Judicial Independence
Since the adoption of the Danish constitution in 1849, decision-making power in Denmark has been divided into the legislative, executive and judicial branches. The principle of a three-way separation of power and the independence of courts of law help ensure democracy and the legal rights of the country’s citizens. The district courts, the high courts and the Supreme Court represent the three basic levels of the Danish legal system, but the legal system also comprises a range of other institutions with special functions.
For further information please see:
http://www.domstol.dk/om/publikationer/HtmlPublikationer/Profil/Profilbrochure percent20- percent20UK/index.html.
Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment
The government agency “Invest in Denmark” is part of the Danish Trade Council and is situated within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The agency provides detailed information to potential investors. The website for the agency is www.investindk.com. The Faroese government promotes Faroese trade and investment through its website https://www.faroeislands.fo/economy-business/. For more information regarding investment potential in Greenland, please see Greenland Holding at www.venture.gl or the Greenland Tourism & Business Council at https://visitgreenland.com/.
As an EU member state, Denmark is bound by EU rules on the free movement of goods, capital, persons and certain services. Denmark welcomes foreign investment and does not distinguish between EU and other investors. There are no additional permits required of foreign investors, nor any reported biases against foreign companies from municipal or national authorities.
A new EU investment screening framework encouraging member states to screen foreign investments in strategic sectors is expected to lead to national foreign investment screening legislation, effective in 2020.
Competition and Anti-Trust Laws
The Danish Competition and Consumer Authority (CCA) reviews transactions for competition-related concerns. According to the Danish Competition Act, the CCA requires notification of mergers and takeovers if the combined turnover of the participating companies exceeds DKK 50 million (approx. USD 7.6 million). However, notification is not required if one of the participating companies has turnover of less than DKK 10 million (approx. USD 1.5 million). If the combined turnover of the merging companies exceeds DKK 900 million (approx. USD 137 million) and at least two of the merging companies each have turnover exceeding DKK 100 million (approx. USD 15.1 million) or if one of the merging companies has domestic annual turnover exceeding DKK 3.8 billion (approx. USD 577 million) and at least one of the merging companies has global annual turnover exceeding DKK 3.8 billion (approx. USD 577 million), the merger or takeover is also subject to approval by the CCA. Large scale mergers also require approval from EU Competition authorities.
Expropriation and Compensation
By law, private property can only be expropriated for public purposes, in a non-discriminatory manner, with reasonable compensation, and in accordance with established principles of international law. There have been no recent expropriations of significance in Denmark and there is no reason to expect significant expropriations in the near future.
ICSID Convention and New York Convention
Investor-State Dispute Settlement
International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts
There have been no major disputes over investment in Denmark in recent years. Denmark has been a member of the World Bank-based International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) since 1968. ICSID offices have also been extended to the Faroe Islands and Greenland. Denmark is a party to the 1958 (New York) Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, meaning local courts must enforce international arbitration awards that meet certain criteria. Subsequent Danish legislation makes international arbitration of investment disputes binding in Denmark. Denmark declared in 1976 that the New York Convention applies to the Faroe Islands and Greenland. Denmark is a party to the 1961 European Convention on International Commercial Arbitration and to the 1962 Agreement relating to the application of this Convention. Denmark adopted the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration in 1985.
Monetary judgments under the bankruptcy law are made in freely convertible Danish Kroner. The bankruptcy law addresses creditors’ claims against a bankruptcy in the following order: (1) costs and debt accrued during the treatment of the bankruptcy; (2) costs, including the court tax, relating to attempts to find a solution other than bankruptcy; (3) wage claims and holiday pay; (4) excise taxes owed to the government; and (5) all other claims. In the World Bank’s 2019 Doing Business Report, Denmark ranks 6th in “resolving insolvency.”
4. Industrial Policies
Performance incentives are available both to foreign and domestic investors. For instance, foreign and domestic investors in designated regional development areas may take advantage of certain grants and access to preferential financing. Investments in Greenland may be eligible for incentives as well. Foreign subsidiaries located in Denmark can participate in government-financed or subsidized research programs on a national-treatment basis.
Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation
The only free port in Denmark is the Copenhagen Free Port, operated by the Port of Copenhagen. The Port of Copenhagen and the Port of Malmo (Sweden) merged their commercial operations in 2001, including the free port activities, in a joint company named CMP. CMP is one of the largest port and terminal operators in the Nordic Region and one of the largest Northern European cruise-ship ports; it occupies a key position in the Baltic Sea Region for the distribution of cars and transit of oil. The facilities in the free port are mostly used for tax-free warehousing of imported goods, for exports, and for in-transit trade. Tax and duties are not payable until cargo leaves the Free Port. The processing of cargo and the preparation and finishing of imported automobiles for sale can freely be set up in the Free Port. Manufacturing operations can be established with permission of the customs authorities, which is granted if special reasons exist for having the facility in the Free Port area. The Copenhagen Free Port welcomes foreign companies establishing warehouse and storage facilities.
Performance and Data Localization Requirements
Performance requirements are applied only in connection with investment in hydrocarbon exploration, where concession terms normally require a fixed work program, including seismic surveys and in some cases exploratory drilling, consistent with applicable EU directives. Performance requirements are mostly designed to protect the environment, mainly through encouraging reduced use of energy and water. Several environmental and energy requirements are systematically imposed on households as well as businesses in Denmark, both foreign and domestic. For instance, Denmark was the first of the EU countries, in January 1993, to introduce a carbon dioxide (CO2) tax on business and industry. This includes certain reimbursement schemes and subsidy measures to reduce the costs for businesses, thereby safeguarding competitiveness.
Performance requirements are governed by Danish legislation and EU regulations. Potential violations of the rules governing this area are punishable by fines or imprisonment.
Performance requirements are applied uniformly to domestic and foreign investors.
The Danish government does not follow “forced localization” policies, nor does it require foreign IT providers to turn over source code and/or provide access to surveillance. The Danish Data Protection Agency, a government agency, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry for Culture are the entities involved with data storage.
5. Protection of Property Rights
Property rights in Denmark are well protected by law and in practice. Real estate is chiefly financed through the well-established Danish mortgage bond credit system, the security of which compares to that of government bonds. To comply with the covered bond definition in the EU Capital Requirements Directive (CRD), the Danish mortgage banking regulation was amended effective July 1, 2007. With the amended Danish mortgage banking regulation, commercial banks now have the same opportunities as mortgage banks and ship-financing institutions to issue covered bonds. Only issuers that have been granted a license from the Danish Financial Supervisory Authority (FSA) are able to issue Danish covered bonds.
Secured interests in property are recognized and enforced in Denmark. All mortgage credits in real estate are recorded in local public registers of mortgages. Except for interests in cars and commercial ships, which are also publicly recorded, other property interests are generally unrecorded. The local public registers are a reliable system of recording security interests. Denmark is ranked 11th in the World Bank’s Doing Business Report for its ease of “registering property.”
Intellectual Property Rights
Intellectual property in Denmark is well protected. Denmark adheres to key international conventions and treaties concerning protection of property rights. Denmark has ratified the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) internet treaties, the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT), have also been signed, ratified, and are in force.
For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/.
A list of attorneys in Denmark known to accept foreign clients can be found at https://go.usa.gov/xmkME. This list of attorneys and law firms is provided by the American Embassy as a convenience to U.S. citizens. It is not intended to be a comprehensive list of attorneys in Denmark, and the absence of an attorney from the list is in no way a reflection on competence. A complete list of attorneys in Denmark, Greenland and the Faeroe Islands may be found at the Danish Bar Association web site: www.advokatnoeglen.dk.
6. Financial Sector
Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment
Denmark has fully liberalized foreign exchange flows, including those for direct and portfolio investment purposes. Credit is allocated on market terms and freely available. Denmark adheres to its IMF Article VIII obligations. The Danish banking system is under the regulatory oversight of the Financial Supervisory Authority. Differentiated voting rights – A and B stocks – are used to some extent, and several Danish companies are controlled by foundations, which can restrict potential hostile takeovers, including foreign takeovers.
The Danish stock market functions efficiently. In 2005, the Copenhagen Stock Exchange became part of the integrated Nordic and Baltic market place, OMX Exchanges, which is headquartered in Stockholm. Besides Stockholm and Copenhagen, OMX also includes the stock exchanges in Helsinki, Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius. In order to increase the access to capital for primarily small companies, the OMX in December 2005 opened a Nordic alternative marketplace – “First North” – in Denmark. In February 2008, the exchanges were acquired by the NASDAQ-OMX Group. In the World Economic Forum 2018 report, Denmark ranks 12th out of 140 on the metric “Financial System”
The Danish stock market is divided into four different branches/indexes. The C25 index contains the 25 most valuable companies in Denmark. Other large companies with a market value exceeding USD 1.1 billion (EUR 1 billion) are in the group of “Large Cap,” companies with a market value between USD 170 million (EU 150 million) and USD 1.1 billion belong to the “Mid Cap” segment, while companies with a market value smaller than USD 170 million belong to “Small Cap” group.
Money and Banking System
The major Danish banks are rated by international agencies, and their creditworthiness is rated as high by international standards. The European Central Bank and the Danish National Bank reported that Denmark’s major banks have passed stress tests by considerable margins.
Denmark’s banking sector is relatively large; based on the ratio of consolidated banking assets to GDP, the sector is three times bigger than the national economy. Domestic banks in Denmark own approximately 87 percent of the industry’s total assets, while foreign banks hold only 13 percent. The assets of the three largest Danish banks – Danske Bank, Nordea Bank Danmark, and Jyske Bank – constitute approximately 75 percent of the total assets in the Danish banking sector.
Denmark’s biggest systemically important bank, Dansk Bank, with assets that are roughly 1 1/2 times Denmark’s total GDP, is under criminal investigation in several jurisdictions amid accusations an Estonian branch became a European hub for money launderers from Russia. The bank has admitted that a significant part of about EUR 200 billion (USD 230 billion) that flowed through the non-resident portfolio of its tiny Estonian branch between 2007 and 2015 could have illicit origins. The scandal has led to significant tightening of financial regulation, including increasing penalties by up to 700 percent and increased funding for the Financial Supervisory Authority.
The primary goal of the Central Bank (Nationalbanken) is to keep the peg of the Danish currency towards the Euro – with allowed fluctuations of 2.25 percent. It also functions as the general lender to Danish commercial banks and controls the money supply in the economy.
As occurred in many countries, Danish banks experienced significant turbulence in 2008 – 2009. The Danish Parliament subsequently passed a series of measures to establish a “safety net” program, provide government lending to financial institutions in need of capital to uphold their solvency requirements, and ensure the orderly winding down of failed banks. The Parliament passed an additional measure, the fourth Bank Package, in August 2011, which sought to identify systemically important financial institutions, ensure the liquidity of banks which assume control of a troubled bank, support banks acquiring troubled banks by allowing them to write off obligations of the troubled bank to the government, and change the funding mechanism for the sector-funded guarantee fund to a premiums-based, pay-as-you-go system. According to the Danish Government, Bank Package 4 provides mechanisms for a sector solution to troubled banks without senior debt holder losses, but does not supersede earlier legislation. As such, senior debt holder losses are still a possibility in the event of a bank failure.
On October 10, 2013, the Danish Minister for Business and Growth concluded a political agreement with broad political support which, based on the most recent financial statements, identified seven financial institutions as “systemically important”: Danske Bank, Nykredit, Nordea Bank Danmark, Jyske Bank, Sydbank and DLR Kredit. These were identified based on three quantitative measures: 1) a balance sheet to GDP ratio above 6.5 percent; 2) market share of lending in Denmark above 5 percent; or 3) market share of deposits in Denmark above 5 percent, which will be lowered to 3 percent during 2018. If an institution is above the requirement of any one of the three measures, it will be considered systemically important and must adhere to the stricter requirements on capitalization, liquidity and resolution. The Faroese SIFI are P/F BankNordik, Betri Banki P/F and Norðoya Sparikassi, while Grønlandsbanken is the only SIFI in Greenland.
Experts expect a revision of the Danish system of troubled financial institution resolution mechanisms in connection with a decision to join the EU Banking Union. The national payment system, “Nets” was sold to a consortium consisting of Advent International Corp., Bain Capital LLC, and Danish pension fund ATP in March 2014 for DKK 17 billion (USD 2.58 billion). Nets went public with an IPO late 2016.
Foreign Exchange and Remittances
Exchange rate conversions throughout this document are based on the 2018 average exchange rate where Danish Kroner (DKK) 6.3174 = 1 USD (USD )
There are no restrictions on converting or transferring funds associated with an investment into or out of Denmark. Policies in place are intended to facilitate the free flow of capital and to support the flow of resources in the product and services markets. Foreign investors can obtain credit in the local market at normal market terms, and a wide range of credit instruments is available.
Denmark has not adopted the Euro currency. The country meets the EU’s economic convergence criteria for membership and can join if it wishes to do so. Denmark conducts a fixed exchange rate policy with the Danish Krone linked closely to the Euro within the framework of ERM II. The Danish Krone (DKK; plural: Kroner, in English, “the Crown”) has a fluctuation band of +/- 2.25 percent of the central rate of DKK 746.038 per 100 Euro. The Danish Government supports inclusion in a European Banking Union, as long as it can be harmonized with the Danish Euro opt-out and there is a guarantee that the Danish mortgage finance system will be allowed to continue in its present form.
The Danish political reservation concerning Euro participation can only be abolished by national referendum, and Danish voters have twice (in 1992 and 2000) voted it down. The government has stated that in principle it supports adopting the Euro, but no referendum is expected for the foreseeable future. Regular polling on this issue shows a majority of public opinion remains in favor of keeping the Krone. According to the Stability and Growth Pact, a Euro country’s debt to GDP ratio cannot exceed 60 percent and budget deficit to GDP ratio cannot exceed 3 percent. Denmark’s debt to GDP ratio was 34.1 percent by the end of 2018, down from 36.1 percent in 2017. Denmark ran a budget surplus of 0.5 percent in 2018 and of 1.4 percent in 2017, well within Stability & Growth Pact parameters.
Sovereign Wealth Funds
Denmark maintains no sovereign wealth funds.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
Denmark is party to the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) within the framework of the World Trade Organization (WTO). State owned entities (SOEs) hold dominant positions in rail, energy, utility and broadcast media in Denmark. Large scale public procurement must go through public tender in accordance with EU legislation. Competition from SOEs is not considered a barrier to foreign investment in Denmark. As an OECD member, Denmark promotes and upholds the OECD Corporate Governance Principals and subsidiary SOE Guidelines.
Denmark has no current plans to privatize its SOEs.
8. Responsible Business Conduct
As an OECD member, Denmark promotes, through the Danish Business Authority, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Denmark’s National Contact Point can be reached at: http://mneguidelines.oecd.org/ncps/denmark.htm.
The Danish Business Authority has published a National Action Plan to advance Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) in Denmark; the most recent plan covers the 2012 – 2015 period and contains 42 initiatives focusing on business-driven CSR. A global survey by the London Business School and Harvard Business School concluded that corporate management is considered the most trustworthy in Denmark, Finland and Singapore. All major companies in Denmark have a public CSR strategy. The government hosts www.csrgov.dk, a website “to promoting corporate social responsibility (CSR) through development and dissemination of new knowledge, guidelines and tools for companies.”
Denmark is the least corrupt country in the world according to the 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International, which has local representation in Denmark. The Ministry of Justice is responsible for combating corruption, which is covered under the Danish Penal Code. Penalties for violations range from fines to imprisonment of up to four years for a private individual’s involvement and up to six years for a public employee’s involvement. Since 1998, Danish businesses cannot claim a tax deduction for the cost of bribes paid to officials abroad.
Denmark is a signatory to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery, the UN Anticorruption Convention, and a participating member of the OECD Working Group on Bribery. In the Working Group’s 2014 Phase 3 report on Denmark, the government was urged to be more proactive in its investigations and to prosecute foreign bribery allegations.
Resources to Report Corruption
Resources to which Corruption may be reported:
The Danish State Prosecutor for Serious Economic and International Crime,
1604 København V.
Phone: +45 72 68 90 00
Fax: +45 45 15 01 19
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark’s development assistance agency DANIDA to report any knowledge of corruption within DANIDA projects or among staff or DANIDA partners.
Transparency International Danmark
Dalgas Have 15, 2. sal, lokale 2c008
The Secretariat is manned by Jasmin Frentzel Sørensen and Emma Siemens Lorenzen who can be reached at email@example.com
Contact at Embassy Copenhagen responsible for combating corruption:
U.S. Department of State
Dag Hammarskjolds Alle 24, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
+45 3341 7100
10. Political and Security Environment
Denmark is a politically stable country. Incidents involving politically-motivated damage to projects or installations are very rare. This is reflected in the EIU’s “AAA” rating of Denmark in terms of political risk.
11. Labor Policies and Practices
The Danish labor force is generally well-educated and efficient. English language skills are good, and English is considered a natural second language among a very high proportion of Danes. The labor market is stable and flexible. U.S. companies operating in Denmark have indicated that Danish rules on the hiring and firing of employees generally enable employers to adjust the workforce quickly to changing market conditions.
The Danish labor force amounted to approximately 3.036 million persons in January 2019. Of these, 716,278 (Q2, 2018) are employed in the public sector. Denmark’s OECD-harmonized unemployment rate was 5.0 percent in February 2019, relative to the EU-28 6.5 percent and OECD 5.32 percent averages (. The unemployment rate is expected to remain stable in the coming years due to policies intended to increase the labor supply and continued demand for labor.
The public sector in Denmark is large and accounts for about 25 percent of the employment at full-time equivalence. The labor force participation rate for women is among the highest in the world. By Q4, 2018, 76.3 percent of working-age women participated in the labor force and the employment rate was 66.6 percent 72.6 percent. The male labor force participation rate and employment rate were 82.6 percent and 78.4 percent, respectively
The Danish labor force is highly organized, with approximately 75 percent belonging to a union. Labor disputes and strikes occur only sporadically. As a general rule, private sector labor/ management relations are excellent, based on dialogue and consensus rather than confrontation. Working conditions are laid down in a complex system of legislation and organizational agreements, where most aspects of wage and working conditions are determined through collective bargaining rather than legislation.
The contractual workweek for most wage earners is 37 and 1/2 hours. By law, employees are entitled to five weeks of paid annual leave. However, the majority of the labor force has the right to six weeks of paid annual leave, gained through other labor market agreements.
Denmark has well-functioning unemployment insurance and sick-pay schemes, self-financed or financed by the state. Maternity leave in Denmark is 52 weeks, 18 of which are reserved for the mother and two for the father, while the remainder may be divided between the parents as they see fit. Employers are obliged to pay salary for at least 14 weeks, while the government supports the remainder of the leave. Forthcoming EU legislation will reserve 8 of the weeks’ leave to fathers. The legislation is expected to be enacted in member states before 2022.
Danish wages are high by international standards and have prompted the use of capital-intensive technologies in many sectors. Some investors report that the high average wage level is detrimental to Danish competitiveness. Although high wages and generous benefits including time off reduce competitiveness, high productivity and low direct costs to employers can result in per employee costs that are lower than in other industrialized countries. Nominal wages increased by 2.6 percent from Q4 2017 to Q4 2017, while inflation was 0.7 percent in 2018, down from 1.1 percent in 2017 enhancing real wage increases. Nominal wages are forecast to increase by approximately 3.5 percent annually towards 2022, which will allow for substantial real wage increases with continued subdued inflation.
Generally, personal income tax rates in Denmark are among the highest in the world. However, foreign employees making more than an amount specified annually by the Danish Immigration Service and certain researchers may choose to be subject to a 27 percent income tax rate, plus a labor market contribution amounting to 32.84 percent income tax in the first seven years of working in Denmark. Certain conditions must be fulfilled for key employees to be eligible for the 27 percent tax scheme: for example, since January 1, 2019, wages had to total at least DKK 66,600 (USD 10,550) per month before the deduction of labor market contributions and after Danish labor market supplementary pension contributions. There are also limits based on an individual’s previous work history in the Danish labor market. Compared with the general Danish progressive income tax system, this is an attractive incentive. Further information can be obtained from Danish embassies or from the Danish Immigration Service (www.nyidanmark.dk).
Danish work permits are not required for citizens of EU countries. U.S. companies have reported that in general, work permits for foreign managerial staff may be readily obtained. However, permits for non-managerial workers from countries outside the EU and the Nordic countries are granted only if substantial professional or labor-related conditions warrant. Special rules, detailed by the Danish Immigration Service in its “Positive List Scheme” apply to certain professional fields experiencing a shortage of qualified manpower. The list is updated twice annually. Foreigners who have been hired in the designated fields will be immediately eligible for residence and work permits. The minimum educational level required for a position on the Positive List is a Professional Bachelor’s degree, e.g. pedagogue. In some cases, a Danish authorization must be obtained. This is explicitly stated on the Positive List. (E.g.; non-Danish trained doctors must be authorized by the Danish Patient Safety Authority.) Professions covered by the Positive List Scheme included engineers, scientists, doctors, nurses, IT specialists, marine biologists, lawyers, accountants and a wide range of other Masters or Bachelors degree positions. As of 2019, the Pay Limit Scheme extends to positions with an annual pay of no less than DKK 426,985 (approximately USD 67,589), regardless of the field or specific nature of the job. Persons who have been offered a highly paid job have particularly easy access to the Danish labor market through the Pay Limit Scheme. The length of work and residence permits granted under the Pay Limit Scheme depends on the length of the employment contract in Denmark. For permanent employment contracts, work permits are granted for an initial period of 4 years. After this period the permit can be extended if the same job is held. There are several other schemes meant to make it easier for certified companies to bring employees with special skills or qualifications to Denmark. These schemes vary in duration and requirements.
Danish immigration law also allows issuance of residency permits of up to 18 months duration based on an individual evaluation, using a point system based on education, language skills and adaptability.
Denmark has ratified all eight ILO Core Conventions and been an ILO member since 1919.
12. OPIC and Other Investment Insurance Programs
OPIC programs are not applicable to U.S. investments in Denmark, but may be used by at least 95 percent U.S.-owned subsidiaries in Denmark to support their investments in qualifying countries.
Denmark is a member of the World Bank Group’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA).
13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics
Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy
|Host Country Statistical Source*||USG or International Statistical Source||USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
|Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD)||2017||$330,250||2017||$324,872||www.worldbank.org/en/country|
|Foreign Direct Investment||Host Country Statistical Source*||USG or International Statistical Source||USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
|U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions)||2017||$11,068||2017||$13,873||BEA data available at https://www.bea.gov/international/direct-investment-and-multinational-enterprises-comprehensive-data|
|Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions)||2017||$20,136||2017||$17,974||BEA data available at https://www.bea.gov/international/direct-investment-and-multinational-enterprises-comprehensive-data|
|Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP||2017||33.8%||2017||35.4%||UNCTAD data available at
[Select country, scroll down to “FDI Stock”- “Inward”, scan rightward for most recent year’s “as percentage of gross domestic product”]
* Source for Host Country Data:
http://www.dst.dk/en/Statistik/emner/nationalregnskab-og-offentlige-finanser/aarligt-nationalregnskab (or www.statbank.dk).
Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
|Direct Investment From/in Counterpart Economy Data|
|From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)|
|Inward Direct Investment||Outward Direct Investment|
|Total Inward||$151,800||100%||Total Outward||$235,040||100%|
|United Kingdom||$13,446||9%||United States||$16,183||7%|
|“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.|
Source: IMF: http://data.imf.org/?sk=40313609-F037-48C1-84B1-E1F1CE54D6D5&sId=1482186404325
Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment
|Portfolio Investment Assets|
|Top Five Partners (Millions, US Dollars)|
|Total||Equity Securities||Total Debt Securities|
|All Countries||$477,399||100%||All Countries||$275,761||100%||All Countries||$201,638||100%|
Source: IMF: http://data.imf.org/regular.aspx?key=60587804
14. Contact for More Information
Dag Hammarskjolds Alle 24,
2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
Other Areas in the Kingdom of Denmark
Greenland’s status within the Kingdom of Denmark is outlined in the Self Rule Act (SRA) of 2009, which details the Greenlandic government’s right to assume a number of responsibilities from the Danish government, including the administration of justice, business and labor, aviation, immigration and border control, as well as financial regulation and supervision. Greenland has already acquired control over taxation, fisheries, internal labor negotiations, natural resources, and oversight of offshore labor, environment, and safety regulations. Denmark continues to have control over the Realm’s foreign affairs, security, and defense policy, in consultation with Greenland and the Faroe Islands. Denmark also retains authority over border control issues, including immigration into Greenland. Greenland is not a part of the EU or Schengen Area, and special rules apply for foreigners arriving from a Schengen country. Denmark provides Greenland with an annual block grant of DKK 3.9 billion — roughly USD 620 million — that accounts for about 20 percent of Greenland’s GDP and half of the Greenland government revenue.
The Greenlandic government seeks to increase revenues by promoting greater development of fisheries, extractive resources, and tourism, and by trimming the public sector through privatization of enterprises currently owned by the government. Key initiatives include improving access to financing for new businesses and enhancing Greenland’s corporate tax competitiveness. Rising prices for fish and shellfish, the predominant Greenlandic exports, have generated strong earnings for large parts of the fisheries sector. Catches of prawn, by far the most important single species, have increased recently following years of declines. Catches of mackerel are also increasing.
Capital city Nuuk has seen extensive construction activity in recent years and a planned expansion of the airport will lead to further growth and facilitate expansion of tourism. Other efforts to develop tourism include increases in accommodation (hotel rooms), a reduction in passenger tax for cruise ships, and a focus on promoting foreign language education to create a more multilingual workforce. The government is calling for stricter safety requirements for navigation in Greenlandic waters.
In the mineral extractives sector, two smaller mines (ruby and anorthosite) have begun producing, while two other companies have applied for permission to extract rare earth elements in southern Greenland, in one case combined with the extraction of uranium, which is estimated could one day become the world’s fifth-largest uranium mine and second-biggest rare earths operation. The government endorses maintaining the previous government’s relaxation on a ban on uranium mining, and states that all IAEA and EURATOM standards must be met. However, the issue of uranium mining in Greenland remains sensitive.
Greenlandic Economic Outlook
Greenland is currently enjoying an economic upswing, though its highly specialized economy – over 90 percent of exports is fisheries – faces significant challenges. The Greenlandic economy has exhibited strong growth in recent years, mainly driven by large catches and high prices of fish and shellfish, but also supported by consumption, investments and recently the resource extraction industry. The Greenlandic Economic Council estimate that real GDP grew by 4.4 percent annually from 2014 to 2016, and then subsided to 1.2 percent in 2017. The Council estimate that GDP growth again has accelerated to about 3 percent in 2018 and 2019. Growth has led to labor shortages, both geographically and by sector and there is risk that the economy could overheat, especially in connection with large construction projects. An unemployment rate is not calculated, but the Council estimates unemployment has declined from about 10 percent in 2014 to currently below 5 percent. The public budget has exhibited surpluses since 2015. The Greenlandic economy continues to be buttressed by a yearly block grant from the Danish Government which amounted to just over half of the Greenlandic government budget and 20.4 percent of Greenland’s DKK 18.5 billion (USD 2.8 billion) GDP in 2017. Increased public spending at government and local levels has had an expansionary effect in 2017 and 2018. The Greenlandic economy is characterized by the unusual condition of having higher public than private consumption. Consequently, government consumption is of proportionally greater importance to the economic trend.
The Greenland Parliament (called “Inatsisartut”) and the Government of Greenland (Naalakkersuisut) adopted a Budget Act for 2018 with an estimated balanced annual budget in the period 2018-2021. The public budget has exhibited small surpluses since 2015. The municipalities, government and government-owned enterprises, had a gross debt of approximately 22 percent of GDP by the end of 2017.
The Greenland Economic Council (GEC) – an independent advisory council – concluded in the Council’s 2017 report that, “Projections for the public finances shows a major sustainability problem.” The Council warns of the effects of increasing public expenditures as larger portions of the population age into retirement, resulting in fewer wage earners in the labor market, and that a realistic plan to close the gap between expected expenditures and revenues, could require the Government to cut social spending. The GEC has advised that development of a more self-sufficient economy require further development of the extractive and tourism sectors. Natural resource exploration has declined in recent years in line with lower worldwide mineral prices. The two mines in operation, however, are also generating some optimism that more small-scale mining operations could follow.
Greenland exported DKK 4.057 billion (USD 643 million) in 2018, a 4.8 increase from 2017, mainly attributable to higher value of catches. Some 93 percent of Greenlandic exports, measured in local currency, were fish products, with the remainder being mainly raw materials and machinery. Exports went primarily to Denmark (87 percent), followed by Portugal, and Iceland. Greenland imported goods worth DKK 2.972 billion (USD 451 million) in the first nine months of 2017, primarily machinery (27 percent), foods (20 percent), intermediate products (17.6 percent), and fuels (12.5 percent). Imports came from Denmark (79 percent), Sweden, and China among others. Imports from the United States represented 0.9 percent of total imports. Due to its vast geographic expanse, Greenland’s physical and telecommunications infrastructure is less interconnected and developed than in other parts of the Kingdom of Denmark. The labor force was comprised of 27,271 people in 2017, and the average unemployment rate was 6.8 percent, though that in the capital was significantly lower The Greenlandic government is actively trying to attract investments to Greenland to diversify the economy and integrate it into the world economy as part of a long-term path toward eventual independence from Denmark.
Establishing a Company in Greenland
A foreign company can establish a commercial enterprise in Greenland in one of the following ways: through a subsidiary, a registered affiliate, a representative office, or a taxable entity. A subsidiary is only liable for its own assets. The capital requirement for establishing a corporation (A/S) is DKK 500,000 (approx. USD 75,900) and for establishing a private limited liability company (ApS) is DKK 50,000 (approx. USD 7,915)
An established company planning to do business in Greenland must obtain a CVR (Central Company Register) registration number. This also applies to subsidiaries. A registration number can be acquired online from the Danish Business Administration at https://indberet.virk.dk/myndigheder/stat/ERST/Start_groenlandsk_virksomhed
A registered affiliate has no capital requirements, but only a company with a legally registered office in the EU, USA, Canada or the Nordic countries can open an affiliate, which is not treated as an independent company, but rather as an extension of the main company for legal purposes. This means that the head office is liable for all the affiliate’s assets.
A representative office is not regulated or defined; however, a representative office may not enter contracts or deliver services. It is, rather, intended to be a marketing office, or an office to establish contacts with the goal of eventually entering the market.
An exploration license is viewed as a taxable entity. There is more lenient regulation in the extraction industry regarding company composition: if a foreign company is granted an exploration license, it is not required to register as an affiliate, but the license is taxable, and therefore the firm must submit tax information like a regular company. However, a loss can be carried forward and written off against future profits. A CVR registration is required.
A foreign company can do business in Greenland in a consecutive or non-consecutive 90 day period over 12 months without being required to register as a business.
Greenland has double taxation agreements with Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, and Norway. Greenland has signed a Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) agreement with the United States.
The corporate income tax rate is 30 percent; an additional surcharge of six percent of the tax payable brings the total corporate tax rate to 31.8 percent. Companies which are operating under the Mineral Resources Act can apply for an exemption of the surcharge, thereby lowering the tax rate to 30 percent.
Taxation of royalty payments is 30 percent. Greenland has no value added tax (VAT) system, sales tax, or similar taxes. There are, however, some payable duties, such as taxes for cruise liners, ports duties, etc. There are four types of depreciation in the Greenlandic tax law. Buildings can be depreciated five percent annually. Ships, planes, and hydrocarbon prospecting can be depreciated 10 percent annually. Mineral licenses can be depreciated 25 percent annually, and operating equipment can be depreciated at a rate of 30 percent annually. Assets with a cost of less than DKK 100,000 (USD 15,170) may be depreciated in the year of acquisition.
The Greenlandic labor force was 27,271 persons in 2017. Average unemployment for 2017 was 6.8 percent – higher than the OECD average of 5.78 percent, though a decrease from 10.3 percent in 2014. Unemployment has decreased significantly since, especially in Nuuk and the Danish Central Bank estimate it below 5 percent in 2018. According to Statistics Greenland, 39.5 percent of the Greenlandic population in 2017 have an education beyond primary school. Of those, 54.7 percent have a vocational education.
In December 2012, Greenland passed legislation known as the “Large Scale Act,” which allows companies to use foreign labor during the construction phase of development when project costs exceed DKK 5 billion (USD 759 million) and workforce requirements exceed the local labor supply. The Act is intended for potential mining or infrastructure projects in Greenland. The Act lays out the framework for politically negotiated Impact Benefit Agreements (IBA) for the Government of Greenland and the employer to agree on the exact conditions of employment for foreign labor. The scale of Greenlandic labor utilized will be negotiated for each project and will vary depending on local capacity and the negotiated agreement for each project.
Foreign workers will enjoy the same legal protections as Greenlandic workers, in theory, including the same USD 13.85 per hour minimum wage and retention of the right to strike, but employers may deduct up to USD 180 from their pay each week to cover the cost of company-provided lodging, food, and clothing.
Investment in Natural Resources
Greenland possesses significant mineral deposits, including rare earth elements, zinc, lead, molybdenum, uranium, gold, platinum, ruby and pink sapphires, and other critical minerals. Greenland is also believed to have large quantities of iron ore and copper, although there has been limited exploration to date. Despite a harsh climate and ice coverage in Greenland, satellite images record a significant disappearance of surface ice from the island. As the trend continues, mining industry experts anticipate the retreating ice will make the island’s rich stores of raw materials more easily accessible, though still faced with the challenges of remote location and lack of infrastructure.
In October 2013, the Greenlandic Parliament abolished the country’s 25-year “zero-tolerance” policy towards uranium and other radioactive minerals, lifting the ban on mining where uranium is present. This decision will facilitate the exploitation of rare earth mineral deposits, which are often found co-mingled with radioactive minerals in Greenland.
With the 2009 SRA, Greenland gained rights to its mineral and hydrocarbon resources, and it acquired the regulatory authority over these on January 1, 2010. The SRA also created a revenue mechanism: if exploitation of Greenland’s natural resources becomes commercially viable, Greenland will keep the first DKK 75 million (USD 11.38 million) in annual revenues derived from these resources, with further revenues split equally between the Danish and Greenlandic Governments. Denmark’s share will be transferred by deducting the equivalent amount from the annual block grant to Greenland of DKK 3.9 billion (USD 620 million). Once the full value of the block grant is reached, any additional revenue will be subject to negotiations between the Danish and Greenlandic governments. The Greenlandic Government welcomes this lucrative scenario, but remains aware of the potential adverse impacts that a rapid influx of wealth from these activities could have on Greenlandic society.
Most of Greenland’s identified rare earth deposits are licensed by the Mineral License and Safety Authority and some have reached advanced stages of exploration. In 2018, Greenland plummeted to a position as 68th out of 83 in the annual mining survey from Canadian Fraser Institute. Greenland had been ranked 34th out of 91 mining jurisdictions surveyed in terms of investment attractiveness. In December 2013 Greenland was deemed the “best country to do mining in,” together with Mongolia, Azerbaijan, and Australia, at Europe’s Mines & Money conference.
Greenland General Business Information
OPIC programs are not applicable to U.S. investments in Greenland. Information about the Greenlandic Government can be found at http://naalakkersuisut.gl/en. Information from the Greenlandic Government on natural resource exploration and extraction can be found at http://www.govmin.gl.
Statistics on Greenland can be found at http://www.stat.gl/default.asp?lang=en.
By law, private property can only be expropriated for public purposes in areas where the Greenlandic Self-government has the competencies, in a non-discriminatory manner, and with reasonable compensation. There have been no recent expropriations of significance in Greenland and there is no reason to expect significant expropriations in the near future.
In Greenland it is not possible to acquire private ownership of land, but a right of use may be sold for an area, e.g. if you buy property, you own the house, not the land on which it sits.
There have been no major disputes over foreign investment in Greenland in recent years. While it is common that disputes are settled in Greenlandic courts, the Danish Supreme Court remains the highest appeals court for disputes in Greenland. If a dispute is very specialized and within the purview of the Danish Administration of Justice Act, the parties involved can choose the Danish Maritime and Commercial Court as a court of first instance.
While Greenland’s democratic institutions and legal framework in general are strong, there have been some concerns about legislation being passed by parliament without significant hearing processes and public input.
THE FAROE ISLANDS
The Faroe Islands have an open economy and multiple trade agreements with other countries. For more than two centuries the Faroese economy has relied on fisheries and related industries. Fisheries account for close to one-sixth of the total gross value added in the Faroe Islands and about 95 percent of goods exports, excluding ships and aircraft. Salmon alone accounts for 45 percent of exports. Increased catches of mackerel and herring, as well as higher prices for salmon globally, have contributed significantly to recent economic growth. As a non-EU member, the Faroe Islands continue to have open access to the Russian market despite Russia’s retaliatory trade embargo on certain food imports from the EU. This has allowed the Faroese to sell increased quantities of salmon to the Russian market at higher than normal prices, even while prices have dropped significantly in the European market.
The Islands exported approximately DKK 8.0292 billion (USD 1.271 billion) worth of goods in 2018, 93.3 percent of which were fish products, with the remainder being marine vessels, aircraft. In recent years, construction, transportation, banking, and other financial services sectors have grown, and offshore oil and gas exploration is developing, though commercially viable finds have not been made. In 2018, the majority of goods exports went to Russia (27.3 percent), followed by the UK (10.5 percent), Denmark (8.8 percent). Goods imports totaled DKK 7.739 billion (USD 1.225 billion) in 2018. The vast majority of imports came from Europe in 2018; 1.2 percent originated in the United States. Denmark provided 36.7 percent of imports, Germany 12 percent, Norway 7.8 percent, China 6.1 percent, and Sweden 4.3 percent. Imports consist of input to industry (20.8 percent), items for household consumption (20.5 percent), e.g. food, tobacco and beverages, fuels (16.6 percent) and machinery (13.1 percent).
The Faroe Islands’ small, open, but non-diversified economy makes it highly vulnerable to changes in international markets. The Faroe Islands have full autonomy to set tax rates and fees, and to set levels of spending on the services they provide. Denmark upholds an annual block grant of DKK 642 million – roughly USD 97 million.
In 2013, the Faroese economy began a strong recovery, after several years of stagnation. The Economic Council for the Faroe Islands, together with Statistics Faroe Islands, estimate that nominal GDP rose 5.5 in 2015 followed by estimated growth of 9.3 percent in 2016, 4.0 percent in 2017, and 2.4 percent in 2018. Growth in nominal GDP was primarily driven by domestic demand and increasing salmon prices and catches. GDP growth is expected to rebound to 3.6 percent for 2019, though high demand for labor could detract from the outlook, which presupposes non-declining salmon prices and an increase in investments. Unemployment was historically low at 1.8 percent in 2018, down from 8 percent in 2011.
Central and local government and publicly owned companies are planning massive investments in infrastructure and hospitals. However, expansionary fiscal policy might put severe pressure on the job market, which could lead to labor shortages. Investment in 2016-2018 is estimated to total DKK1.7 billion (USD 258 million) or 10.2 per cent of GDP. Construction of the Eysturoy and Sundoy tunnels, with an expected cost of approximately DKK 2.64 billion (USD 400 million) or 16 percent of GDP are planned for the period 2016-21. Salmon producer Bakkafrost, the Faroe Islands’ largest company, has made public its plans to invest approximately DKK 2 billion (USD 303 million) on processing plants in 2016-2020. The Economic Council has repeatedly called for long-term planning of public investments to more effectively balance the business cycles.
Announcement of these enormous investments resulted in the Danish Systemic Risk Council issuing an unprecedented official warning of the increase of systemic risk on the Faroe Islands in the fall of 2016. By April 2018, the Council recommended increasing the banking sectors’ countercyclical capital buffer from 1 percent to 3 percent by 2020. Seven in ten construction firms say that shortage of labor is an impediment to growth, and the magnitude of the public investments could further push the economy beyond its labor capacity limit. The Economic Council for the Faroe Islands estimates that a permanent fiscal improvement of 5 percent of GDP will be required to stabilize government debt, which is currently at a low level. As of April 9, 2019, credit agency Moody’s maintain the Faroe Islands’ Aa3 rating of high quality and very low credit risk, with a stable outlook, reflecting its fiscal autonomy and revenue and expense flexibility with a track record of prudent budgeting. The stable and historical relationship with Denmark is deemed an additional strength.
The Faroe Islands opened their own securities exchange in 2000; active trading of shares followed in 2005. The exchange is collaboration with the VMF Icelandic exchange on the Nasdaq OMX Nordic Exchange Iceland.
The most recent figures available show Foreign Direct Investment into the Faroe Islands totaled DKK 1.6 billion (USD 243 million) in 2012, about half of which originated from Denmark. The Faroese government has indicated interest in attracting further foreign investment. “Invest in the Faroes” is the Faroese government unit promoting Faroese trade. The website is http://www.government.fo/.
Looking ahead, the Faroe Islands face a demographic challenge. Currently there are 4.5 people in the working age group “16 to 66”, for every person aged 67 or older. By 2050, that number is projected to be less than half; an estimated 2.1 persons for every dependent retiree.
The Faroe Islands have in recent years engaged in several disputes with the EU over fishing quotas. The disagreements escalated in September 2012 when the EU adopted measures which allowed it to impose sanctions on the Faroe Islands. In March 2013, the Faroe Islands unilaterally increased their quota for herring and mackerel. EU member states responded by voting in favor of imposing sanctions which went into force in August 2013. Sanctions were lifted a year later after a political understanding between the two parties was reached on herring catches. Subsequently a five year agreement with the other coastal states in the North Atlantic was signed on mackerel quotas, reducing uncertainty for fisheries and improving profitability, since the agreement allows for more sustainable harvesting.
The Faroe Islands retain control over most internal affairs, including the conservation and management of living marine resources within the 200 nautical mile fisheries zone, natural resources, financial regulation and supervision and transport. Denmark continues to exercise control over foreign affairs, security, and defense, in consultation with the Faroese Government.
The labor force comprised 29,254 people in 2018. In many areas, the Faroese labor market model resembles that of the other Nordic countries, with high standards of living, well-established welfare schemes and independent labor unions. A majority of people in the Faroe Islands are bilingual or multilingual, with Danish and English being most widely spoken after Faroese. The Islands boast well-developed physical and telecommunications infrastructure and have well-established political, legal, and social structures. The standard of living for the population of 51,060 (which exceeded 50,000 for the first time in the spring of 2017) is high by world standards, and Gross National Disposable Income per capita eclipsed that of Denmark in 2014.