Law Firms Seeking ASEAN Opportunities

Law Firms Seeking ASEAN Opportunities

The launch of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) later in 2015 has prompted the intense interest of many law firms, who see major opportunities in the development of the unitfied Asian market.

But which law firms are most likely to profit from the development?

According to The Lawyer in the UK, the two firms best positioned to take advantage of AEC are Baker & McKenzie, Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance who have access to major lawyer numbers in the region, not to mention their financial clout and expertise.

The Lawyer also notes that all three firms also feature at the top of the region’s M&A tables.

As both international and regional firms gear up to take advantage of the unified market, which will see greater trade between the 10 countries that make up ASEAN, Bakers’ Asia-Pacific chairman Bruce Hambrett said the AEC will have “a considerable impact”.

Noting that Singapore is a regional hub for multinationals while Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam present significant manufacturing opportunities, the Philippines is a centre of excellence for outsourcing, Malaysia is a leader in Islamic finance and Myanmar is at the geographic crossroads between India and China, Hambrett said that “put together, economically speaking, this represents a fantastic opportunity”.

Although there are some questions over whether countries like Myanmar and Thailand, both of which are being side-tracked by internal political issues, will be ready in time for the launch of the AEC at the end of this year, the general consensus is that the single market is going to lead to an uptick in work for law firms operating in the region.

“Whatever the deadline and whatever the goals there’s activity in play and there’s momentum that will see opportunities,” said Clifford Chance Singapore partner Paul Landless.

“We’ve seen significant moves around the banking sector, such as the Philippines liberalising to allow foreign ownership of banks. There’s been aviation sector liberalisation [across ASEAN] to allow more flights and we’ll see something similar in shipping. There’s also been more information and data-sharing in terms of e-commerce.”

In addition to identifying the 10 international firms with the best coverage in ASEAN, the Southeast Asia Elite takes an in-depth look at the regional firms that are leading the way in ASEAN’s individual markets.

Read more at The Lawyer

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