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Editorial

Overview

Since Myanmar’s first multi-party elections for two decades in 2010, and a foreign investment law in 2012, almost all international sanctions on the country have been terminated or suspended. This has seen an influx of business and capital, leading to growth sectors such as telecoms, infrastructure, extractive industries and tourism. New telecoms infrastructure constructed by Ooredoo and Telenor has led to mobile phone ownership breaking the 50% barrier, creating an opportunity for mobile banking in a country where 95% are unbanked. Another significant step in the country’s economic development is the proposed Yangon Stock Exchange, which, at the time of writing, was nearing its October 2015 launch. Also on the horizon, planned for November 2015, is another general election, with Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy due to enter candidates for the first time.

A number of locally focused firms, such as Lucy Wayne & Associates, Ltd, which returned to the market in 2015 after a 12-year absence, operate with a mix of domestic and foreign lawyers, as do some of the bigger regional firms, such as DFDL. Large international firms, by contrast, typically service clients from desks outside the country. Whatever the set-up, the key challenge identified by most firms is recruiting well-trained, locally-qualified lawyers, an issue arising from a historically unfavourable environment for the legal profession. As part of an effort to redress this, Oxford University is assisting Yangon University with improvements to its law programme.

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