ASEAN must tackle foreign ownership laws

By Andrew Batt ASEAN countries must do more to tackle foreign property ownership laws or risk losing out to regional counterparts where the buying process is less onerous.Those were the words of Suphin Mechuchep, Managing Director of Jones Lang LaSalle Thailand, who spoke at the recent World Economic Forum in Bangkok.She said: "Major differences between ASEAN markets such as foreign property ownership, alien business laws and tax system need to be fine-tuned.  Once these areas are managed efficiently, the gap in competitiveness among the real estate markets in ASEAN should become narrower, and every market will then be able to capture most, if not all, of the opportunities that will follow the connectivity and collaboration within the sub-region."Citing one example, she added: "Investors from more developed economies in ASEAN should be more confident to expand to property markets in newly opened economies like Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia where new business opportunities are abundant. At the same time, the less matured real estate markets in these countries will benefit from a better inflow of capitals as well as the transfer of tested business process, expertise, know-how and technology. All these are among the key factors that will allow for the faster development of the real estate industry in these less developed economies."She concluded that while this cooperation will help boost intra-regional investment opportunities, the stronger real estate markets in the sub-region should become more attractive to investors from EMEA and the Americas.Suphin also held out little hope of a regional solution to restrictive regulation, other than by setting up an ASEAN joint committee to come up with sector-based solutions for each market to adapt."It would be fundamentally difficult to address these issues on a regional basis because the laws in each country are vastly different and diverse, ranging from the most liberal countries such as Singapore and Hong Kong to less transparent frontier markets," she concluded.Related Stories:MND unveils 2H2012 GLS ProgrammeWhen to pay or not to pay the ABSDNo way HDB will shrink flat sizes: Khaw

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