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Commercial arbitration in the ASEAN region

Recent years have brought substantial economic growth and development among the emerging markets of the ASEAN region, particularly in emerging markets like Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, among others.  As in any jurisdiction, this increase in development, along with an increase in cross-border transactions in the region, has driven an increase in commercial disputes, both in terms of quantity and complexity.  Foreign investors, when considering whether to enter a new market, should consider the ability to resolve disputes efficiently as a significant factor in their decision whether to carry out investment projects.

Vietnam and Cambodia are two examples of emerging markets of significant interest to foreign investors.  Both jurisdictions offer investors a measure of political stability, rising consumer purchasing power, and low-cost, plentiful labor.

Vietnam has had a functioning commercial arbitration body, the Vietnam International Arbitration Centre (“VIAC”), for more than two decades, while Cambodia has recently launched its commercial arbitration body, the National Commercial Arbitration Centre (“NCAC”), and adopted its arbitration rules in July of 2014.  The NCAC complements the country’s already-successful Arbitration Council, which hears collective labor disputes.  For both countries, the availability, or promise, of commercial arbitration is an encouraging factor for foreign investors to consider. In this article, we discuss commercial arbitration in Vietnam and Cambodia as examples of ASEAN emerging market jurisdictions which are making an effort to improve the commercial dispute resolution environment for investors.

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