While other ASIAN nations have evolved more quickly, the members of the CMLV bloc (Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam) remain fledglings, slowed by political dogma and authoritarianism. Some are learning, though, that developing sound business law can entice the investment they need to fly high. John Church reports

Unlike tiger developed economies in the region, the CMLV bloc members have in the past been overlooked due to many factors, but primarily for their regimes, which make transparent and functional legal mainframes for business a pipe dream.

Be it stale communist doctrine, the rule of the junta, or the strongarm tactics favoured by dictators towards any form of opposition, these economic fledglings have failed to progress their agendas any further and achieve the successes of more flexible regional neighbours.

Changes are, however, occurring, as the more astute leaders of these nations calculate that strong economies need not necessarily mean a complete change of regime – just an improvement in the regulatory environment necessary for business, foreign and domestic, to prosper.

Martin Desautels is the regional managing partner of DFDL, a firm with a particularly strong foothold in these countries, having offices in all of them, and in other countries is the wider ASEAN area, with the aim of providing one point of contact for legal and tax services, one regional blended fee and one invoice, making life easier for its in-house counsel clients.

Desautels picks Vietnam as the hottest country on the bloc. “In all aspects of business, Vietnam has been attracting the attention of major corporations in several sectors, notably retail, infrastructure, energy and manufacturing,” he says. “Our three practices that have been the more active have been M&A/corporate, energy and infrastructure, and tax.”

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