Legal Updates for August 2023

Regional Trade Mid-Year Highlights 2023

2023 has been an odd year where seemingly global trade appears to have slowed down somewhat. Yet, trade regulations have continued to see modifications, enhancements and enforcement. We discuss some of the key developments across Southeast Asia, including investigations and sunset review relating to anti-dumping and safeguard measures, developments relating to export/import, free trade agreements, as well as sanctions in this Update that spans the 1st half of 2023.

Some of the key developments highlighted in this Update include those on anti-dumping and safeguard duties in Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, various regulatory changes that may affect the ease of import and export of goods, particularly with new procedural requirements being introduced in Thailand and Myanmar, and new rules of origin for imports and exports in Cambodia and Vietnam. Perhaps of somewhat serious consequence is a new rule introduced by Indonesia mandating exporters of natural resources to place their foreign exchange export proceeds from the natural resources into a special account for such proceeds within three months of receipt and thereafter to maintain at least 30% thereof for a further period of three months from the date of initial deposit.

Regulatory requirements and enforcement aside, there continues to be numerous developments in the negotiation and conclusion of various free trade agreements ("FTAs"), such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement being ratified by Indonesia and the Philippines, and various countries like Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam being actively involved in negotiating FTAs. In Singapore specifically, there has also been a surge in new digital trade agreements, and economic agreements relating to the green economy. The ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA) is also being reviewed by member states to upgrade it for continued relevance amidst emerging global trends.

On sanctions, Singapore continues to ban exportation of, transhipment in, or transit through, Singapore of specified dual use goods which destination is or is intended to be Russia. Also, the US has imposed additional sanctions onto certain entities in Myanmar, as well as sanctions on certain individuals in Cambodia.

Moving forward into the remaining part of 2023, we expect to see further significant developments that would affect cross border trade. These would include specific licensing or other regulatory requirements depending on the specific type of products or services involved, which we have not touched on in this Update. Our team is always ready to assist with any case or query that you may have, or even to just have a chat.

Regional Competition Bites Q2 2023

In the Regional Competition Bites Q2 2023, we share various legislative and regulatory developments across Southeast Asia.

On merger control, Cambodia has issued various new regulations which sets out applicable penalties for violating the Law on Competition and also introduces a post-merger notification regime. This follows Cambodia’s recent establishment of its merger control framework, which will come into effect in Cambodia in September 2023.The Philippines has also issued non-horizontal merger review guidelines, with draft guidelines in progress for the motu proprio review of mergers in digital markets. Thailand has issued fines against real estate developers for the late filing of merger notifications.

Mergers aside, the Indonesia Competition Commission has introduced a series of new guidelines on bid-rigging, relevant market definition, and assessment of negative impact, and a Checklist of Competition policies for the government to ensure that its policies align with fair business competition principles. Vietnam is also reviewing its draft Consumer Protection Law and has approved a plan that aims to strengthen anti-counterfeiting measures and protect consumers in online transactions.

In Singapore, sustainability remains a focus, and the regulator has just launched a public consultation on proposed guidance for evaluating environmental sustainability collaborations among competitors soon.