20 May 2015

Tapping the potential of the ASEAN Economic Community is only a click away with new Rajah & Tann-backed portal

Ahead of the launch of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in December this year, businesses looking to tap the opportunities presented by the integrated markets of the AEC, will soon get help a click away.

Rajah & Tann Asia, United Overseas Bank and RSM Chio Lim Stone Forest, have teamed up to launch “Business in ASEAN”, a portal that provides companies with a single platform that help businesses navigate the complexities of setting up operations in ASEAN.

By tapping into the professional knowledge and resources of the three organisations, small and medium-sized enterprises across the 10-member economic grouping can equip themselves with tools and know-how to navigate ASEAN’s business landscape. ASEAN is Asia’s third largest market after China and India with a combined population of more than 620 million people.

Of particular interest to businesses is the "Ask a Question" feature of the portal which enables companies to pose questions to the three organisations which have extensive network in the region.

Questions such as “can I pledge or mortgage my assets in one country to facilitate borrowings in another country?”, “can I borrow from Singapore to support projects in the region?” or “how do I coordinate the different regulatory processes required for a multiple jurisdiction transaction?”.

The “Business in ASEAN” portal was unveiled together with a book titled “Doing Business in ASEAN” at an ASEAN-focused conference organised by the Singapore Business Federation, with Rajah & Tann, UOB and RSM Chio Lim Stone Forest as Founding Conference Partners.

Chia Kim Huat, Partner and Regional Head, Corporate & Transactional Practice, at Rajah & Tann Singapore, said: “To tap into the potential of the ASEAN Economic Community, businesses need good local lawyers who know the terrain on the ground to help navigate the legal minefields, as what you read in the law may not be what it is done in practice, especially in emerging markets.

“Many MNCs have done their own study on the competition and opportunities brought about by a single market but SMEs appeared less prepared. The portal and the book are intended to provide insights on how SMEs can venture into the region without fear of tripping up over different laws, practices and economics.”

Kim Huat added that Rajah & Tann Asia, the largest legal network in Southeast Asia, is well positioned to support SMEs’ expansion in AEC’s integrated market.

“We have been getting more and more regional mandates because our lawyers are mostly Asian born and bred, and are able to practise local law in their respective jurisdictions. They are familiar with the language, culture and commercial and regulatory norms which are so vital to success in this region,” he observed.

The portal and book will provide basic information and frequently asked questions of doing business in ASEAN, namely Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Andrew Ong, a partner in Rajah & Tann’s Integrated Regulatory Practice who helps to oversee the firm’s regional operations said: “Any economic community made up of different sovereign countries will be a complex environment to do business in. We hope that this portal and book will provide clarity to some of the regulatory requirements in each of the countries involved.

“Through the portal, we hope to provide a first touch point for SMEs and show that despite the complexities, there are solutions readily available.”

Rajah & Tann Asia is Southeast Asia’s largest legal services provider with more than 500 lawyers from nine offices in Southeast Asia that include Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

About Rajah & Tann Asia

Rajah & Tann Asia brings together leading law firms and lawyers in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, with each offering the highest standards of service to locally-based clients while collectively having the capacity to handle the most complex regional and cross-border transactions and to provide excellent legal counsel seamlessly across the region. With more than 500 lawyers, all working towards one shared goal, we are lawyers who know Asia and who give our clients home advantage.