Postcard from Myanmar - November 2015

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Summary: A greeting from BLP's new Myanmar office and a round up of the latest legal news from Myanmar, including further insights into the election and the implementation of the national ceasefire agreement.

Greetings to all readers,

It’s a great privilege for me to join BLP to open an office here in Yangon at this exciting time in Myanmar’s history. The elections were a tremendous success and credit must go to the Government and the Union Election Commission for conducting them so well, and congratulations must of course go to the NLD who now have the opportunity to accelerate Myanmar’s transformation and bring increased prosperity to its people.

There is a real optimism here at the moment, including among current and future investors. Many challenges in the business environment remain, although we expect the positive reforms seen in recent times to be consolidated and extended by the new Government, with further emphasis being given to improving transparency of regulation and promoting sustainable investment in areas of national priority such as power, infrastructure, transport, agriculture and health.

This will be a long term process and a very careful assessment of each opportunity will be required to ensure that risks are properly managed and investment goals are met. BLP is investing in Myanmar and developing a high quality local capability and we hope to be able to support many others looking to do the same.

Chris Hughes


Elections Update

The Union Election Committee has announced the official results of the 8 November election - the National League for Democracy (NLD) won 887 of the 1171 seats in parliament and the State and Regional Assemblies. The landslide success of the NLD in the election marks a historic step in the country's transition to democracy and the results have been welcomed by leaders all over the world. President Thein Sein has asserted that the government and the military will respect the election results. The new members of parliament will take their seats in February 2016. The NLD with its majority determines the next president and the country now awaits for its decision, as Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the NLD, cannot become president herself under the constitution. Download our infographic for an update of the final election results.

Implementation of National Ceasefire Agreement

At the second Joint Implementation Coordination Meeting (JICM) on the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) held between 16-17 November 2015, Vice-President Dr Sai Mauk Kham pledged that the current government will continue to implement the NCA in line with the NCA’s timeline during its remaining term. The JICM approved members of the Union-level Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) and guidelines for the operation of the JMC - the JMC will be responsible for drafting a military code of conduct. Plans were also made to form a Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee to draft a framework for holding political dialogue as part of peace process efforts.

On 17 November 2015, martial law was lifted in the region of Kokang, which had previously been under military administration since 17 February 2015 due to intense fighting between the government and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA). On 18 November 2015, the MDNAA, Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and Arakan Army (AA) said in a joint statement that they would support an NLD government in the interest of ending conflict and building a federal union. The MNDAA, TNLA and AA had been excluded from signing the NCA on 15 October 2015. See our October 2015 postcard for more information.

Outstanding bills to be reviewed during final parliamentary session

Amendments to the Myanmar Citizen Investment Law 2013 (MICL) and the Foreign Investment Law 2012 (FIL) were submitted to the Pyithu Hluttaw’s final parliamentary session on 18 November 2015. The proposed changes will allow the Myanmar Investment Commission to delegate power to regional authorities to enable businesses, natural resources and employment opportunities to be controlled at the regional level. The MICL will also be amended to allow regional governments to approve domestic investments. Amendments to MICL, FIL and Companies Act 1914 are expected to be passed in 2016.

Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) publishes soon-to-be deregistered companies

Following DICA’s request in September 2015 for companies registered under the Myanmar Companies Act 1914 and Special Company Act 1950 to update DICA of whether the company is currently active and carrying on business, more than 20,000 companies have failed to respond and now risk being struck of the company register. DICA has published the names of the soon-to-be-de-registered companies on its website. Companies struck off the company register will not be able to operate in Myanmar. Please contact us if you would like a copy of the list or if you would like any assistance in relation to this issue.

Foreign companies allowed to distribute LPG in Myanmar for the first time

Eleven companies have applied for a tender to form a joint venture with state-owned Myanmar Petrochemical Enterprise for the wholesale distribution of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). This is the first time foreign companies will be allowed to distribute LPG in Myanmar, with two applicants from Myanmar, two Singaporean companies and five local-foreign joint ventures being among those bidding for the tender.

The winner of the LPG tender will upgrade existing facilities owned by the Ministry of Energy (MoE) and it is hoped the tie-up will enable the MoE improve distribution and price stability in order for it to be widely consumed. The MoE plans to start its collaboration with the successful bidder in March or April 2016.

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