Marcus Collins of DFDL shares his insight on property investment in Myanmar and across the region
Everyone is talking about Myanmar lately. Are foreigners allowed to buy property in Myanmar?
A foreign individual or company cannot own immovable property under Myanmar’s property legislation. However, a foreign investor may acquire land by way of a long-term lease in certain circumstances following the provisions of the Foreign Investment Law and the Special Economic Zone Law, and in case of an industrial park being in joint venture with the government.
Are there any changes in Myanmar’s real estate regime since the ratification of the new Myanmar Foreign Investment Law of November?
Yes. In addition to the general tax incentives, the new legislation introduced longer lease terms over private and government-owned land. The initial lease term is now 50 years (as opposed to 30 years under the old law), renewable for two more terms of ten years each. This is a great incentive for foreign real estate investment in Myanmar.
What about foreign real estate investment in the rest of the Mekong region?
Under Thai and Cambodian real estate laws, foreign corporations and foreign individuals cannot own land or immovable property but can invest in property through leasehold structures. A major advancement in Cambodia and Thailand, with respect to mixed-used and residential developments, is the recent legislations allowing foreigners to own a certain percentage of private units in co-owned buildings or condominiums with certain restrictions.
In Vietnam, land belongs to the people and is managed by the state. Similarly, land in Laos is owned by the national community. In these countries, foreigners invest through limited lease rights.
Would you say that there are different investment trends within the Mekong region’s real estate market?
Yes, of course. It seems that a dual trend has emerged in the Mekong region’s real estate market. Thailand and Vietnam are considered the more ‘mature’ markets, standing out in the region as stable investment environments, while the ‘frontier’ economies of Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos are still in the early stages of development, but offer
promising long-term opportunities for investors. Cambodia is considered to be one of the brightest ‘frontier’ growth stories in Asia, with its open attitude towards foreign investment. Thanks to the 2010 Foreign Ownership Law and attractive tax incentives, real estate investors and developers are increasingly attracted to the market.
DFDL is a leading international law firm specialising in emerging markets with pan-regional legal and tax expertise in the Mekong region. In Myanmar, DFDL works in collaboration with a local counsel and in Cambodia, DFDL works with a network of Cambodian law firms.
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