Thursday, July 30, 2015

Malaysia, Vietnam to ease investment rules

LAHAINA, Hawaii -- Emerging countries will relax regulations on foreign investment in a wide range of areas under a draft agreement by the 12 nations hashing out the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact.

     Malaysia would let foreign companies take up to a 30% stake in convenience store operators there. Vietnam will let foreign businesses open supermarkets and other retail outlets of less than 500 sq. meters without advance review. Vietnam will take this step five years after the TPP goes into effect, covering all parts of the country. Under the current setup, only certain geographic areas do not require advance review.

     The financial sector will also see relaxed regulations. Malaysia will double the branches that a foreign bank can open there from the current eight. Vietnam will raise the maximum interest that foreign concerns can take in local banks from 15% to 20%. Similarly, the maximum foreign stake in telecommunications companies will climb from 65% to 75%.

     Populations are expanding in Malaysia and Vietnam, with per capita consumption having ample room to grow. The markets are particularly attractive to companies from Japan, whose population continues to shrink.

     The 12 nations have been holding ministerial talks here in recent days. Discussion continues on such sticking points as intellectual property and agricultural products.


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