SMU School of Law Research Project on ASEAN Legal Barriers

Researchers at the Law School of the Singapore Management University (SMU) have been working with the Canada-ASEAN Business Council’s (CABC) support since late 2016 on a project which examines legal barriers faced by businesses operating in ASEAN member States. The objective is to produce recommendations which will aid ASEAN policy-makers in further improving the region’s business environment.

The project is led by Professor Locknie Hsu (trade and investment law), working with co-researchers are Associate Professor Pearlie Koh (corporate law) and Associate Professor Yip Man (land law). The team has looked at a variety of barriers, including those encountered in setting up of businesses, trade and investment restrictions, land use obstacles, and difficulties in dealing with business disputes across borders. Research on the barriers has been gathered through different avenues, including an online survey, roundtable and other discussions with business representatives, lawyers and academics in various ASEAN cities, articles, ASEAN documents and various reports and materials. In August 2017, the team launched its Interim Report with preliminary findings and recommendations at a seminar attended by a number of business and government representatives. In October 2017, the Minister of International Trade & Industry of Malaysia, H.E. Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed, led a delegation to visit the team at SMU to discuss points of interest in the Interim Report. The team was informed that its work was unique and useful, and might well be raised at appropriate ASEAN meetings in future.

The team has since been working to complete the study, and the Final Report is expected to be launched in March 2018 during the CABC’s Business Forum 2018.

Views on the Project from the CABC

The CABC is thrilled to be a supporting partner of the project. The practical recommendations for the ASEAN Secretariat/ the ASEAN countries to improve the business, trading, and legal environment will have a meaningful impact on our Members’ success in the region. The CABC looks forward to incorporating the report’s findings into its ASEAN trade policy agenda, and to presenting the recommendations to the ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) at the 2018 Canada-AEM Consultations in Singapore in late 2018.

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