Legal Updates for November 2020

New Notice from Prime Minister's Office on COVID-19 Reinforcement Measures

On 31 October 2020, the Prime Minister's Office issued Notice on Reinforcement Measures for Containment, Prevention and Full Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic ("Notice"). The Notice follows the Order of the Prime Minister No. 06/PM dated 29 March 2020 which is referred to in the Notice. The Notice sets out the restrictions on movement and gathering which must be implemented during the period from 1 November 2020 to 31 December 2020 to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in Lao PDR.

Signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement by 15 Asia-Pacific Countries

On 15 November 2020, the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ("ASEAN") – Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam – in conjunction with Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand, signed the world's largest free trade agreement to date, known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership ("RCEP") Agreement.

Representing the culmination of eight years of negotiations, the RCEP builds on existing bilateral FTAs among the 15 RCEP Participating Countries ("RPCs"). Together, the RPCs account for about 30% of global gross domestic product and close to a third of the world's population. It signals the RPCs' strong commitment to maintaining open and connected supply chains; broadens individual RPCs' economic linkages and connectivity with the region; and gives them preferential access to the region's growing markets.

We provide an overview of the features of the RCEP below, which improves on the existing ASEAN Plus One agreement in four key areas:

1. comprehensive trade facilitation measures;

2. improved market access for Trade in Services;

3. enhanced investment rules and disciplines; and

4. expanded scope and commitments.