A COMMUNITY of 40,000 Chinese lives in Argentina. Most come from Taiwan, although in recent years small numbers from the mainland and Hong Kong have settled. Argentina has a tradition of liberal immigration policies introduced at the turn of the century to help populate the country. Applicants can qualify for residency if they have no criminal record and US$30,000 in family savings. Lodging the application, and consular fees, costs $24. Setting up a company in Argentina was 'as easy as it is in Hong Kong', said Carlos Rubio Reyna, the deputy Consul-General in Hong Kong. 'The freedom to engage in any kind of commercial activity on an equal footing with everyone else applies,' he said. Corporate tax is at 30 per cent and the maximum personal income tax is also 30 per cent. 'There is no tax on dividends and foreign residents living in the country for less than six months of a calendar year are entitled to a tax-free expense allowance equivalent to 20 per cent of the Argentine source income. Average customs duty is 12.5 per cent,' Mr Reyna said. To bank in Argentina is simple and, recently, the long-established and leading Argentine institution, Banco Roberts, was acquired by the Hongkong Bank as part of its Midland Bank acquisition. Regarding visas, only holders of Hong Kong Certificates of Identity need apply. The requirements have been waived for BN(O) and BNTC passport holders. One of the most direct air routes to Argentina is by Varig, via Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires. MAS also operates direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to Buenos Aires.