Myanmar is the latest Asian jurisdiction to join the swelling ranks of the global antitrust community. The Competition Law prohibits anticompetitive agreements and abuse of market power. It also introduces a merger control regime. Myanmar first announced its draft antitrust legislation in 2014.

Following legislative scrutiny, Competition Law No 9/2015 was enacted on 24 February 2015. The Myanmar government is expected to publish further regulations to implement the Competition Law sometime in May 2015. The Competition Law will then come into force on a date determined by the president.

2015 marks another key year for antitrust in Asia: the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is prioritising antitrust enforcement as part of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), pursuant to a pledge by member states to introduce competition by the end of 2015; and Hong Kong will begin enforcing its Competition Ordinance imminently.

Competition law risk has quickly become a priority for businesses operating in Asia.

Implications for businesses

A transitional period of up to two years is likely to apply prior to concerted enforcement of the Competition Law, with that time being used to promote awareness and understanding of the new regime. However, Myanmar is expected to enforce serious breaches of the law from day one. Relying on non-enforcement during any transitional period could be high risk, as the Competition Commission will be able to pursue any antitrust breaches during that time.

Increased co-operation between regional regulators increases the likelihood of cross-border investigations. Consequently, all businesses active in Myanmar should review their commercial practices to ensure compliance with competition law from the date of implementation. Given the regional growth in antitrust enforcement, an integrated cross-border approach to compliance is essential. Robust internal compliance can also give confidence to deploy competition law arguments in commercial negotiations.

You can read the full discussion on the new regime (PDF) which was originally written for Competition Law Insight.