Finding the real issue

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For this issue’s cover story, Treading carefully, we headed to Taiwan to look at how business law is faring. Lawyers’ observations of a dipping economy were measured with a concerted effort to reform laws important to gain more interest from foreign investors, and also Taiwanese investors abroad who may be considering a return home.

Geopolitics is impossible to ignore in this part of the world, but most lawyers are reasonably candid about the issues, and more consumed with practice areas that need a shot in the arm, or regulation that may help with business.

Changes to the Company Code are a hot topic, as are most facets of fintech, tax exemptions for returning Taiwanese investors, patents (particularly on pharmaceuticals), capital market updates and a flurry of other regulation that has presumably been stepped up by the incumbent government prior to next January’s election.

While most agree Taiwan is an attractive place to do business, lawyers observe that the authorities do not make it easy for foreign businesses to establish, invest in or purchase Taiwanese entities. Taiwan continues to require foreign investment approval for a number of inbound transactions. Treading carefully, and being fully aware of regulatory reforms, is the order of the day.

The US-China trade war has shown no signs of rapprochement, and in Two elephants in the room we invited renowned international trade specialist Dennis Unkovic to give his views. Rounds of negotiations between Chinese and US trade officials failed to resolve the rift, which has blossomed into a full-blown crisis.

Unkovic observes that there is no short-run solution that can erase the China-US trade deficit. He expects the US to pursue more bilateral treaties with all of its trading partners at the expense of multilateral agreements, as many countries are doing, and as China has successfully demonstrated via its Belt and Road Initiative.

This strategy may significantly affect those companies that are heavily reliant on multilateral organizations like the WTO to conduct and monitor international business activities.

And his outlook is not positive, with a prediction that the road to warm relations between the two sides will be uneven and at times confrontational.

We have two destinations in the latest of our Frontiers series of articles. Legal frontiers in Indonesia explores contemporary approaches to cross-border M&A and how, in terms of the national legal framework for investments, the Indonesian government has taken great efforts to create a more transparent environment. A second article explores the rapid new innovations of technology-based activities, and how the Indonesian government is required to keep adapting with these in an online world. Several discussions on new regulation have been taking place between governmental authorities in respect of cybersecurity and data protection.

Legal frontiers in Bermuda looks at new frontiers in fintech and cryptocurrencies, where the Bermuda government has made remarkable progress in a very short period of time in establishing a world-renowned digital asset-specific regulatory and legislative ecosystem. A second article looks at Bermuda’s “light touch” liquidation regime, which allows a company and its board of directors the time and space to implement and promote among existing stakeholders a restructuring that may return the company to solvency, while giving creditors comfort that the management is operating under the supervision of a provisional liquidator and the court.

In an expert briefing, we look at data privacy in India and how the country is moving to establish a legislative framework that will provide clarity, transparency and adequate enforcement power to authorities.

Finally, I would like to extend a big welcome to our latest corporate counsel association partners, ACC Singapore and Korea’s In-house Counsel Forum. Their partnering with us ensures more than ever that we have the most extensive network of in-house counsel advisers and readers in Asia.

Best wishes,

John Church
Editor, Asia Business Law Journal
Editor-in-chief, Vantage Asia