ExpertiseInternational Trade

Highlights of our international trade practice:

  • Implemented the distribution structure for a European luxury car brand
  • Secured numerous import licenses for over 24,000 lines of imported equipment
  • Guided leading cigarette manufacturers and producers of alcoholic beverages on highly detailed Myanmar customs issues
  • Provided technical assistance to the Ministry of Commerce and Customs Department
  • Fully operational Nay Pyi Taw office that delivers quick and constant access to Ministries
  • Range of services that includes nuts-and-bolts issues, such as securing import and export licenses
  • Resident partner well versed in international trade law

The Myanmar team has a unique two-pronged approach to international trade matters: we focus on both strategic trade issues, such as the implementation of international agreements on trade in goods and services in Myanmar, and highly practical services, such as obtaining import licenses, import approvals and tax exemptions. The combination of working with the Government on high-level problems, while managing and solving real-world administrative hurdles to importing and exporting provides us with an exceptional outlook on things. That is often why our clients choose us to assist them with strategic advice, customs duty optimization and import/export formalities. Our scope of services and our experience goes well beyond what you would typically find in a law firm.

Our team has provided technical assistance to tax and customs authorities in Myanmar and throughout the region. We provided assistance to Myanmar’s Ministry of Commerce on anti-dumping and safeguards (see details here), while we assisted the Customs Department with GATT valuation and post-clearance audits (see details here). Our day-to-day working relationship with and access to the authorities with respect to international trade matters is a cornerstone of our import/export licensing practice, which is an important and fast-growing part of the firm. Our clients seek us out for our ability to deliver their import licenses as fast as possible and for our clear communication and responsiveness.

Many importers and investors encounter difficulties with bringing in goods, particularly at the outset. Approvals are required from various Ministries and agencies, which is where our fully operational office in Nay Pyi Taw delivers a crucial edge. Our team assists clients with those first all-important shipments, often under great time pressure, before clients have a chance to get their own resources and processes in place.

For example, for a multibillion dollar greenfield telecommunications project, our assistance with the MIC process, a major specialty of the Firm, continued seamlessly into securing the required import licenses, tax exemptions and regulatory approvals for telecommunications equipment use and importation. Our team was able to deliver solutions to the client that are beyond the scope of work of a typical law firm, but which are called for in Myanmar’s unique operating environment.

Another showcase of the firm’s skill set in international trade and distribution is our assistance in relation to the distribution structure of a major European luxury car brand. The client needed to navigate Myanmar’s restrictions on trading and car importation, foreign ownership restrictions and the regulatory framework of car showrooms. Based on our access to the Ministry of Commerce’s latest policy on the subject, our team was able to advise on the right structure for the joint venture from the outset, and assisted with securing all required licenses and permits.

Resident partner Edwin Vanderbruggen is well versed in international trade law. He was formerly with Loyens & Loeff and has consulted for the Asian Development Bank on Cambodia’s implementation of WTO obligations. He has published a number of relevant articles on international trade law, including on the AFTA rules of origin (here) and GATT valuation (here), and has lectured on the subject at a number of universities in the region (check out Edwin’s CV here).

Investors and distributors engage our services in the following areas:

  • Advice on importation and distribution in Myanmar: For clients wishing to design optimal export or distribution strategies involving Myanmar, our team in Myanmar offers valuable information and assistance. Clients seek our nuts-and-bolts experience, our propensity to cut through the uncertainty that comes with a newly opened market in full development and our Government access. We realize the need for imaginative solutions in a regulatory climate where so much has never been done before.
  • Assistance with securing import or export licenses: One of the firm’s unique specialties is our assistance with securing import and export licenses. Under Myanmar’s system, nearly all imported goods require an import license, which requires processing through a number of Government agencies. Our team in Nay Pyi Taw is experienced, responsive and highly engaged to get the job done as soon as possible.
  • Assistance with import approvals: A number of goods must be approved in advance for import, such as foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals and telecommunications equipment. We assist clients with securing those approvals as quickly as possible.
  • Advice on customs duty strategies: Our team offers unrivaled experience with respect to customs duty issues. Our services include advice on valuation, tariff classification, disputes, and procedures. We have assisted cigarette manufacturers, producers of alcoholic beverages, car manufacturers and distributors, and companies in the technology sphere with their customs duty issues in Myanmar.
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