Overview of Competition Law in Myanmar

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Minn Naing Oo, Daren Shiau, Aug 17, 2015

The introduction of the Competition Law No. 9/2015 follows Myanmar’s accession to the ASEAN chair in 2014, for the first time since it became an ASEAN member state in 1997.

ASEAN member states had, in adopting the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint in 2007, committed to endeavor to introduce competition policy in all ASEAN member states by 2015. The ASEAN Regional Guidelines on Competition Policy (published in August 2010) (the “Regional Guidelines”) recommends that competition law regimes should be aimed at, inter alia, preventing: (i) anticompetitive business practices, (ii) abuse of market power, and (c) anticompetitive mergers. The AEC Blueprint was likely a leading factor towards the introduction of the Competition Law No. 9/2015 in Myanmar.

The move to enact the Competition Law No. 9/2015 in Myanmar can also be seen as part of the economic reforms being introduced in Myanmar. As stated in Chapter 2 of the Competition Law No. 9/2015, and in public statements made by the Myanmar government, one of the main objectives of passing the Competition Law No. 9/2015 is to safeguard against any adverse effect to public interest caused by monopolistic practices or price manipulation, by an individual or group, that endangers fair competition in economic activities, for the purpose of the development of the national economy.

The Competition Law No. 9/2015 is underpinned by basic principles such as, inter alia, enabling Myanmar to become a domestic and regional economically developed community through the development of a free and fair competition environment that supports international inflows and investments. These principles and objectives reflect the Myanmar government’s goals under its Fifth Five-Year Plan (FY2011/12 to 2015/16), which includes achieving an annual gross domestic product growth of 7.7 percent and a 30 to 40 percent increase in GDP per capita from 2010.

The Competition Law No. 9/2015 is not, however, the first piece of competition legislation in Myanmar. Prior to the enactment of the Competition Law No. 9/2015, the Constitution of the Union of Burma (1948) included a general prohibition on anticompetitive practices (Chapter II), which had not to date been implemented in practice.