Insights / Updates

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Guide to the Real Estate Industry in Asia

A keen understanding of the nature of real estate and the legal and regulatory issues related to this asset class is critical to working out any real estate deal. In this third edition of Rajah & Tann Asia's "Guide to the Real Estate Industry in Asia", we share with you a brief overview of certain key insights to the real estate industry in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Topics covered include the legal framework, types of real estate, ownership and tenure, taxes and other important aspects for investors of real estate to note.

A key pillar of our strength is our Rajah & Tann Asia network with offices in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, as well as dedicated desks focusing on Japan and South Asia. With the most extensive legal network in Asia, our lawyers have a tight grasp of the local culture, business practices, and language not just within their own home countries, but in the other markets in which they frequently conduct cross-border deals as well. Our depth of transactional and regulatory experience allows us to advise clients strategically and creatively, from structuring to eventual execution and implementation of the transaction. It is important to seek specific legal advice in any corporate real estate matters, and our team would be pleased to discuss your specific objectives and requirements.

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.

Managing Greenwashing Risks: A Southeast Asian Lens

As governments, corporates and individuals double down on efforts on their sustainability and environmental, social and governance (ESG) agenda, there are emerging concerns of "greenwashing" and whether products and services labelled as "green" or "sustainable" are indeed so. What exactly is "greenwashing" and are there legal and regulatory frameworks in place to deal with this?

In this Guide, we aim to provide you with the state of play in the greenwashing legal landscape from a Southeast Asian perspective. Each Country Chapter provides a summary of the existing laws and regulations in each of the nine Southeast Asia jurisdictions that are available for enforcing against greenwashing, as well as some of their key regulators' approaches and initiatives to set clear and enforceable standards on green claims, green credentials, green products or green investments.