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02

APR

2020

COVID-19 Southeast Asia Update

As the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic continues to unfold, Tilleke & Gibbins is dedicated to ensuring that you receive the most up-to-date legal developments across Southeast Asia, in a practical and direct format, to ensure that your business can comply with new regulations quickly and effectively.

With the situation developing rapidly, we understand that it can be difficult to keep up with developments, and as such we will be sending a weekly round-up of the key developments in the region. In addition, all our articles and alerts are available in full at the Tilleke & Gibbins COVID-19 Resource Center.

Here are the most significant developments for the week up to April 1, 2020.

  • Cambodia. While the Cambodian government has yet to declare a formal state of emergency, it has taken a number of proactive steps to minimize COVID-19 transmission, such as prohibiting large religious gatherings and closing museums, cinemas, and nightlife venues. On March 30, Cambodia's Ministry of Economy and Finance ordered that casinos be closed from April 1 onward, while the country will also halt rice exports by April 5. Limited tax relief measures have been made available to businesses operating in the garment and tourism sectors, and the National Bank of Cambodia has instructed banks and financial institutions to develop loan restructuring plans for customers engaged in tourism, food and beverages, garment, residential construction and mortgages, and transportation and logistics.

  • Laos. On March 29, the Prime Minister's office initiated sweeping lockdown measures, nominally until April 12 (which in practice extends through April 19, due to upcoming public holidays) requiring the majority of citizens to remain in their homes. Exceptions are made for matters deemed necessary such as shopping for food, attending medical appointments, and carrying out essential work as determined by the government. The Ministry of Ministry of Science and Technology has confirmed that the Department of Intellectual Property is not deemed essential work, and will be closed from April 1, currently scheduled to reopen on April 20 subject to any further extensions. Categories of essential work include some (but not all) government functions, operation of public utilities, health and medical services, food market and supermarket workers, etc. Factories are expressly required to close. The Ministry of Finance has extended deadlines for companies to file financial reports until April 30, allowing the possibility of further extension should the situation not improve by then. The Bank of Laos has urged commercial banks to restructure debts and lower interest rates on outstanding loans.

If you have any queries about how any of these measures may affect your business operations across Southeast Asia, please contact communciations@tilleke.com.

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Our Commitment to Continuous Client Service

During the COVID-19 outbreak, we are focused on maintaining high-quality client services while ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our team. Over the past several weeks, Tilleke & Gibbins has implemented our Business Continuity Plan across our offices in Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. The vast majority of our team members are now working remotely, and based on our robust technology infrastructure, we are providing our full range of services as usual. We are now carrying out all client meetings through the use of technology, and, as many of you will have already experienced, this is proving to be a highly effective solution. By implementing a range of technology and agile working measures, we will ensure that you continue to receive the highest quality services with the fastest possible response times from our team. We know that you are facing complex business challenges during this crisis, and we have put together a bank of practical resources tracking the legal developments in the region as they happen—you can access them all at this link. In addition, we want to assure you that our team will be continuously available to help you navigate these issues across Southeast Asia. If you have any queries about these measures, please contact your usual client service partner, or email communications@tilleke.com.

Stay well, safe, and healthy.

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