A simple idea – an artificial entity with limited legal liability – is today the mainstay of commerce throughout the world. The limited liability company has become so commonplace that we hardly give it a thought. Yet modern economic activity would come to a grinding halt but for the ability of limited liability companies to command capital and put it to productive use. Countries that simplify the process of incorporating companies and encourage their rapid formation, have a distinct economic advantage over countries that put barriers in the path of incorporation. The economic struggles for the modern world are, as a matter of fact, corporate struggles in competing for market share.

ASEAN is no different. To keep up with the burgeoning economies to its west and north, ASEAN nations have, over the last few years, introduced corporate reforms to enhance incorporation and encourage foreign investment through corporate vehicles. The World Bank, in conjunction with the International Financial Corporation runs the Doing Business project to measure the level of business regulation that faces investors seeking to participate in local economies. The corporate reforms being undertaken by ASEAN countries have enhanced their attractiveness as shown in the 2014 edition of the Doing Business project.

In this issue we bring to you a comparative study with respect to the setting up of companies in several countries in the ASEAN region. As can be seen, no two jurisdictions carry identical requirements. This will be a live consideration when deciding which country in ASEAN would be the preferred location for a business’ particular needs when ASEAN becomes the ASEAN Economic Community on 31 December 2015. We trust it will prove useful.

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