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A Guide to Renewable Energy in Southeast Asia

Globally, nations and regulators are rallying their people and businesses to combat climate change. At the most recent 2021 United Nations Climate Conference of the Conference of the Parties ("COP26"), attaining net zero emissions by mid-century was underscored as a key outcome. To achieve this target, there is an urgent need to phase out the use of unabated coal and increase investment in renewable energy ("RE"). The Association of Southeast Asian Nations ("ASEAN") member states have also affirmed their commitment to accelerate decarbonisation and cut emissions at the COP26.

Investment and deployment of RE is a key solution to decarbonisation and achieving the net zero emissions goal. ASEAN countries have taken steps to varying extents and effectiveness for energy diversification, including efforts to deploy RE and develop RE technologies. Each ASEAN country faces its own particular set of challenges and constraints in achieving its net zero emissions goal due to a myriad of factors including its stage of economic development, resources (financial and non-financial) and geographical constraints.

In this Guide, we provide an overview of the RE landscape in the region and certain salient legal and regulatory issues affecting the development and deployment of RE in Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

COVID-19 and the Journey to Recovery - Exploring the Legal and Practical Issues in the Transport of Vaccines

In recent times, the COVID-19 pandemic has been the unifying and defining experience of the international community. The global journey appears now to be entering smoother waters, with countries headed more confidently towards stabilisation and recovery. One of the key components of the recovery plans being adopted by most countries is a concerted drive to provide vaccinations for their citizens and residents. As such, it should be expected that vaccines will continue to be in high demand across the globe.

The distribution of vaccines remains a profound challenge in the continued fight against COVID-19. How are they being transported? What are the transport requirements of specific vaccines? What are the relevant regulatory and contractual issues that may arise in the transport of vaccines? These are the questions that are of particular relevance to members of the shipping and transport industry, against the backdrop of still fraught supply chains, globally. The transport of vaccines is further complicated by the fact that most vaccines must be stored at very low temperatures, require deft handling, and have limited shelf-life. This not only requires transporters and handlers to be well-versed in cold-chain logistics, it also calls for close cooperation and coordination between those involved at the different stages of the distribution journey.

In this article, we take a look at these issues, particularly from the perspective of the Southeast Asian region from which we have invited invaluable input from the Rajah & Tann Asia network member law practices. The article explores the following: 

  1. Transportation requirements for selected vaccines;
  2. Practical issues in the various stages of the transport of vaccines;
  3. International guidelines or standards governing the transport of vaccines; and
  4. Contractual issues which may arise in the transportation process.
State of Emergency in Myanmar – One Year On

On 1 February 2021, a state of emergency was declared for a period of one year in Myanmar ("Declaration"). More than one year after the Declaration, Myanmar still remains under a state of emergency with a new caretaker government pledging to hold elections by August 2023.

In the commercial cities of Yangon and Mandalay, daily lives of the residents appear to have resumed subject to the COVID-19 restrictions, although armed conflicts in the rural regions have continued. At the same time, the number of reported COVID–19 infection cases appear to have lessened and more medical assistance is being made available. The electricity supply and internet connections continue to remain unstable which has posed significant operational challenges for a number of businesses.

In spite of a blend of diplomatic efforts and punitive sanctions from the international community, Myanmar is still mired in severe unrest and political uncertainty, with millions living below the poverty line. As threats of civil war loom, there have been efforts behind the scenes to ramp up humanitarian efforts across the country as the situation on the ground is widely expected to worsen in the coming months. Amidst the currently volatile political and socio-economic backdrop of Myanmar, we discuss in this Update the legal and regulatory developments that have taken place in the country in the second half of last year since the Declaration.