Foreign Chambers of Commerce raise concerns over new legislation


An aerial view of Yangon. Photo: Hong Sar/Mizzima

Foreign businesses active in Myanmar, represented by several Chambers of Commerce and Industry, have issued a statement in relation to new legislation being considered that is likely to have an impact on their ability to work in Myanmar.

The statement notes that, ‘We would like to emphasize that such legislation is of utmost importance to further the rule of law and legal certainty to create a stable basis for foreigners living and working in Myanmar and safeguard the interests of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and its citizens. Hence, the Chambers very much welcome the ongoing reform process and introduction of sound legislation.  At the same time, we would like to express our concerns with respect to some of the regulations stipulated in the draft law. Besides general questions regarding the focus and implementation of registration procedures . . .’

In particular, they highlight, ‘. . . one issue is crucial from the point of view of international investors: the requirement for holders of a Foreigner Registration Certificate to seek approval of the relevant authorities for any absence of more than 24 hours from the registered place of residence.  

While we understand the rationale behind such regulation, we would like to point out that such stipulation, irrespectively of its actual enforcement, would impede companies from our countries to post employees in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.  

To our understanding, it would in practice hardly be possible for foreign employees to comply with such regulation, particularly for business trips on short notice, including meetings with the government authorities in Nay Pyi Taw. The resulting risk of exposing any employee to a situation of incompliance with prevailing Myanmar law would be a major impediment for foreign companies to establish a business in the Republic of the Union Myanmar, not to speak of launching large investment projects.’

The statement concludes, ‘Finally, we would like to bring to your attention that the current regulations prevent foreign Chambers of Commerce and Industry, registered under Myanmar Company Act Section 26, to issue invitation letters for foreign companies applying for Business Visas, despite the fact that attracting new foreign investors is one of their main missions. 

We would highly appreciate if our concerns could be taken into consideration in the further process of deliberation on this forthcoming legislation.  We would like to assure you that our members are committed to operate in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar in a spirit of strict compliance with local legislation for a fruitful and stable political and economic development of the country. For this very reason, we would like to voice our concerns in respect of the aforementioned stipulation.’

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