September 20, 2017

The 3rd ASEAN Summit organised by RHTLaw Taylor Wessing carried strong themes across innovation, e-commerce and the digital economy, as published in The Straits Times

The 3rd ASEAN Summit organised by RHTLaw Taylor Wessing carried strong themes across innovation, e-commerce and the digital economy, as published in The Straits Times. The article was first published in The Straits Times on 20 September 2017. Digital economy a focus for Singapore as Asean chair Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Date: 20 September 2017 Author: Chia Yan Min E-commerce and the digital economy will be a key focus for Singapore when it takes over the Asean chairmanship next year. Ms Low Yen Ling, Senior Parliamentary Secretary (Ministry of Trade and Industry, and Ministry of Education), yesterday said the country will also work to improve trade facilitation in a bid to help companies expand internationally. The Asean Economic Community (AEC) "remains the cornerstone of Singapore's foreign economic policy", Ms Low told about 250 delegates at the Asean Summit. Asean has consistently been Singapore's largest trading partner, accounting for about a quarter of its international trade. Since its founding in 1967, Asean's share of global gross domestic product has almost doubled from 3.3 per cent in 1967 to 6.2 per cent last year. Asean is also the sixth largest economy in the world with a combined GDP of US$2.55 trillion (S$3.5 trillion). The Philippines is the current chair of Asean. Ms Low said Singapore will work closely with other Asean members to promote innovation, build up digital connectivity and facilitate e-commerce flows to benefit businesses, especially micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. STAYING NIMBLE This will include streamlining regional trade rules governing e-commerce to promote greater digital connectivity and lowering barriers to entry to allow seamless movement of e-commerce goods. Singapore also intends to focus on helping Asean businesses lower the administrative costs of trade, for instance by expediting Customs clearance via electronic exchange of information across borders. During its chairmanship, Singapore will also look to continue building up the region's ties with external partners while preserving Asean centrality, said Ms Low. Asean has maintained longstanding relations with its six dialogue partners - Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. Negotiations are also ongoing for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement. "Asean businesses will drive the AEC while governments of the Asean member states play the role of catalysts to support their internationalisation," Ms Low said. "Businesses will therefore need to continue to be nimble and adaptable, and attuned to new trends emerging from disruptive technologies and global developments." The summit at the Suntec Convention Centre was hosted by RHTLaw Taylor Wessing.
September 20, 2017

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Deputy Managing Partner and Chairman of ASEAN Plus Group Azman Jaafar addresses Singapore’s push towards a digital economy as timely, at the Firm’s 3rd ASEAN Summit as featured in TODAY

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Deputy Managing Partner and Chairman of ASEAN Plus Group Azman Jaafar addresses Singapore’s push towards a digital economy as timely, at the Firm's 3rd ASEAN Summit as featured in TODAY. This article was first published in TODAY on 20 September 2017. E-commerce a top focus when S’pore chairs Asean Source: TODAY © Mediacorp Press Ltd. Date: 20 September 2017 SINGAPORE — E-commerce and the digital economy will be the key points of focus when Singapore takes over the chairmanship of the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) next year, Ms Low Yen Ling, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Trade and Industry and Ministry of Education, said yesterday. Addressing the Asean Summit 2017 hosted by legal firm RHTLaw Taylor Wessing, Ms Low highlighted the importance of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) and the Republic’s efforts to open up business opportunities for small and medium-sized companies in the region. “The AEC remains the cornerstone of Singapore’s foreign economic policy. Asean has consistently been Singapore’s largest trading partner, accounting for 25.7 per cent (S$217 billion) of Singapore’s world trade,” noted Ms Low. With an annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth of between 4.5 and 6.1 per cent from 2012 to 2016, Asean is expected to grow at a yearly average of 5.2 per cent in the period 2017 to 2020. “Innovation and e-commerce present immense opportunities as new growth sectors and enablers that businesses can tap into,” said Ms Low. Highlighting the example of e-commerce start-up ShopBack, Ms Low noted how the local company successfully immersed itself in regional markets and established partnerships with merchants in Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand. Singapore will work closely with Asean member states to promote innovation, build digital connectivity and facilitate e-commerce flows into the region to benefit businesses — especially the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises — Ms Low said. Mr Azman Jaafar, deputy managing partner and chairman of Asean Plus Group, RHTLaw Taylor Wessing said: “Singapore’s push towards prioritising the digital economy is timely, given that most Asean countries are now primed to jump onto the digital bandwagon given the rise of the Asian middle class and increasing Internet penetration rates.” The Republic will also work closely with other Asean member states towards the realisation of an Asean-wide self-certification regime and the Asean single window. Tariff concessions and expedited customs clearance via the electronic exchange of information across borders will lower administrative barriers and improve the movement of goods and services across the region, added Ms Low. Speaking at a panel discussion during the summit, Mr Ngurah Swajaya, Indonesia’s Ambassador to Singapore, noted the potential for a digital economy in Indonesia is huge. He cited the example of ride-hailing firm Go Jek as a new breed of businesses tapping into the digital economy. Operating in more than 25 cities in Indonesia, Go Jek’s motorcycle taxis transport people as well as goods and services, including the delivery of groceries and food. Mr Antonio Morales, the Philippines’ Ambassador to Singapore, said the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, to be completed this year or next, is the most important trade agreement since the demise of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. When approved, the RCEP will cover 3.5 billion people, making it the world’s largest market in terms of population and third in the world in terms of GDP and total trade. Economists forecast that if the RCEP is concluded, it would boost regional GDP by close to 2 per cent, Mr Morales added.
September 20, 2017

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Deputy Managing Partner and Chairman of ASEAN Plus Group Azman Jaafar expresses the importance of ASEAN to be a rules-based organisation as a coping strategy in response to the changing business environment, in The Jakarta Post

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Deputy Managing Partner and Chairman of ASEAN Plus Group Azman Jaafar was featured in an article published by The Jakarta Post. The article was first published on 20 September 2017. Greater Integration Vital for Asean to Benefit Business More Source: The Jakarta Post © Date: 20 September 2017 Author: Linda Yulisman Greater integration vital for ASEAN to benefit business more With sound economic fundamentals, ASEAN appears to have a promising outlook ahead. Celebrating 50 years since it was founded this year, the group has become the world’s sixth-largest economy with a combined income of US$2.55 trillion and it is estimated to expand by 5.2 percent in the coming years. Deeper economic integration, which began with the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community at the end of 2015, is seen as a way for the 10-member bloc with a population of more than 500 million to further unlock its potential and better benefit business. Singapore’s senior parliamentary secretary for the ministry of education and ministry of trade an industry, Low Yen Ling, said that greater integration would provide enormous opportunities for business people across the region. “ASEAN’s journey into deepening economic integration is a continuous journey,” she said on the sidelines of ASEAN Summit 2017, organised by Singapore-based international law firm RHTLaw Taylor Wessing. “It will always be a work in progress, something to work on together, and that is also a reflection of the rapidly changing world, not just in ASEAN, but also outside of the region.” The Southeast Asian grouping has benefitted from the free flow of goods across its borders without tariffs in the past decade. It has also undertaken efforts to improve the ease of exporting in a wide range of sectors, such as automotive, cosmetics and medical equipment through reducing and simplifying regulations. In its latest move in August, ASEAN launched an online portal – ASEAN Solutions for Investment, Services and Trade (ASSIST) – to allow companies to voice their concerns over non-tariff measures that impede trading of good within the region. Low further said that when taking the ASEAN chairmanship next year, Singapore aimed to push for initiatives on e-commerce and the digital economyy in order to provide greater benefits for business, particularly micro, small and medium enterprises. Vice president for public sector and government practice at consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, Richard Won, said that it would be crucial for ASEAN to bring a real impact to the private sector as a way to make the grouping more relevant to business. It would be, therefore, necessary for the grouping to address two critical issues faced by businesspeople, namely the cost of doing business and the regulatory environment, he added. “If we can help to reduce costs, make it easier to register business and increase trade and services, and also to have transparent rules within the bloc, that will be a dream come true for many businesses in the region,” he said. The group is working on the creation of ASEAN Single Window that will enable exporters across the region to expedite customs clearance through online exchange of information between the member countries. Since a few years ago, it has simplified the procedure for exporters seeking a certificate of origin for their products, a requirement to enjoy exemption of tariffs, through an online self-certification scheme. Deputy managing partner and chairman of ASEAN Plus Group at RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Azman Jaafar acknowledged that it would be important for ASEAN to become a rules-based organisation, partly to cope with the changing business environment in the past two decades. “It is not good for us to rely on the old ways of allowing personal judgement to get in the way of decision-making for business,” he told The Jakarta Post. “If a business needs to be in a particular country, I think a rules-based economy would be very helpful instead of thinking about what we have to go to get the
September 11, 2017

External counselling services are accessible to lawyers to cope with the stress of the legal profession, shares Deputy Managing Partner Azman Jaafar with The Sunday Times

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Deputy Managing Partner Azman Jaafar shares with The Sunday Times that external counselling services are accessible to lawyers to cope with the stress of the legal profession. The article was first published in The Sunday Times on 10 September 2017. Law and accounting firms taking steps to tackle stress Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd Date: 10 September 2017 Author: Ng Huiwen The hours can be long but there must be a purpose to their work, say young lawyers. Mr Lee Yi Liang, 28, who practised for about a year before becoming an in-house counsel, said that young lawyers like him were made to feel like they were just moneymakers for the firm. "It is not about the hours (you put in). It must be fulfilling too, otherwise there's no impetus to continue," he said. And it is not just in the legal profession. Young accountants are also feeling the heat, and leaving the industry for the same reasons. Law and accounting firms contacted by The Sunday Times said they are aware of the stress and work-life challenges impacting the young professionals, and have processes to help them. Law firm Withers KhattarWong, for instance, has an informal "buddy system" that allows junior lawyers to consult their seniors when faced with issues, said partner Sharon Lin. The firm has 88 lawyers, of which about 30 per cent have less than five years of experience. Some of its international offices have tie-ups with independent healthcare consultants to run a confidential helpline, and this could be extended here too, she said. Employees at Big Four accounting firm PwC Singapore have access to one-on-one counselling with certified psychologists to help with work and personal problems. These sessions, which can be carried out face to face or over the phone, are free and confidential, said human capital leader Trillion So. Similarly, RHTLaw Taylor Wessing deputy managing partner Azman Jaafar stressed that lawyers have access to external counselling services. "As senior lawyers, we understand that lawyers can feel overworked and under-appreciated at times," he said. Accounting firms Ernst & Young and Deloitte Singapore have focused on creating social and sporting activities, while at mid-sized firm Straits Law Practice, ad hoc lunches and drinks allow lawyers to interact in an informal setting. And at Fortis Law Corporation, founder Patrick Tan said young lawyers, who make up about half of the firm's strength of 29, are not made to do just the "grunt work". "Our motivation is simple: If the young lawyers enjoy legal practice, acquire new skills and feel involved in the business, they will probably stay longer in the firm and in the profession," he said. Mr Z.K. Lim, who previously worked for a large local law firm, said he did have help when he was practising for a year. "I was quite lucky to have partners who would be around to guide me and help manage the stress. But much of it also came from wanting to do our best for our clients," he said. But that meant being on his toes all the time. He said: "After a year or so in practice, I was tired of not being able to 'switch off' even when I was not at work."