Officials reassure business over controversial draft trade law

Officials reassure business over controversial draft trade law

Pigeons fly by a rice warehouse in Yangon. Photo: EPA Myanmar’s heavily criticised draft trade law will not burden companies with another layer of bureaucracy and may be amended before submitting to the cabinet and then parliament, according to senior officials.The legislation was still in the consultation process and would be referred to the Attorney General within four months.Lawyers for the World Bank and Germany’s development agency GIZ were involved in the process.

The law would require many companies to submit to another layer of government approval and enable ministries to further regulate broad areas of the economy.Lawyers also warned the lack of clarity and room for government intervention in the latest version of the law risk introducing more bureaucracy and protectionism.Specifically, the legislation appears to require companies to apply for a trade registration certificate in order to carry out trading activities. Individual ministries will publish the list of businesses that need to apply for the certificate and further regulations for the “trade registration of individual traders”.

The legislation would also authorize the commerce ministry to regulate the e-commerce industry but does not elaborate on the regulations. The authority to issue what items are to be restricted in trade is not an economic move but would allow the ministry to systemically ban the import of items like arms and ammunition and alcohol and cigarettes, among others.Price controls only concern essential goods for the public and will ensure both public interest and business interests are taken into account.The functions of the Commission are broadly to make recommendations to the relevant government ministries on trade development, and to form committees and subcommittees doing the same.

Source: Myanmar Times

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