Terrible trifecta

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Bracing for gloom

A trifecta of pandemic, conflict and persistent inflation is strangling businesses, governments and central banks around the world. The Bank for International Settlements (BIS), a bank to the central banks, in its latest annual economic report released in June, said that there are no historic parallels to the crisis we are in.

“The unique nature of the covid recession and subsequent expansion has led to higher inflationary pressures alongside elevated financial vulnerabilities and notably high indebtedness against a backdrop of surging house prices. This combination is historically unprecedented,” the report said.

“For the first time in the post-World War II era, the global economy is facing the threat of higher inflation” coupled with “historically high debt levels, both private and public,” the report points out.

The role of governments has not been more significant in recent history as it has in these trying times. A largely event-free decade had put many national governments on cruise control – until the pandemic and the resulting crisis.

Volume 6, Issue 6
Asia Business Law Journal

For our Cover story, Maintaining momentum, we focus on the Philippines, which held elections and completed a successful transfer of power in May this year, and has opened a new chapter with Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr and Sara Duterte-Carpio taking charge of the country’s newly formed government.

Massive infrastructure development and liberalisation of overseas investment have boosted the Philippines’ competitiveness, but the pandemic has changed everything. We ask the question: What will the newly elected government mean for business-related legal reform?

The new administration inherits a government debt of PHP11.7 trillion (USD224 billion), equivalent to 60.5% of GDP, at the end of 2021 and the highest ratio in 16 years, fuelled by borrowing to combat the pandemic, nearly double the debt level of 2016, when outgoing president Rodrigo Duterte came to power.

The biggest problem facing the government will be how to manage the reopening of the economy without triggering any more covid problems.

While details on the new administration’s economic and development policies have been scarce, most are hoping that there will be continuity in policies without reassessment of laws passed by the previous administration. Unity and continuity could be the turning point.

In Data dojo, we explore Japan’s new data protection regime, the Act on the Protection of Personal Information, which came into force in April this year. It enhances individual data rights and strengthens the obligations of business operators when processing personal data, bringing it in line with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, including extraterritorial reach.
With the new regime, fintech and e-commerce industries, including digital banks and crypto exchanges, should especially be aware of the importance of data security. Stolen, lost or leaked information may result in financial damages and punishment for breaches of the data protection law.

We also bring to you Future Legal Leaders of Indonesia, where we put the spotlight on the young and upcoming lawyers who are making a name for themselves in the nation. We dig deeper into the legal community within the largest economy in Southeast Asia to identify the rising stars of the profession.

Our future legal leaders are made up of 50 young and dynamic lawyers who have attracted the attention of their clients, employers and partners for their dedication to the profession.

Make sure not to miss our annual Japan A-List – the top 100 lawyers practising in Japan, including foreign legal consultants, advisers and counsel.

The list is based on extensive research conducted and nominations received from in-house counsel based in Japan and elsewhere, and Japan-focused partners at international law firms based overseas.

Do also check out our regional comparison of data protection laws in China, India, the Philippines and Thailand, as well as practical perspectives on arbitration in Hong Kong, and offshore restructuring and international taxation with a unique Bermuda perspective.

Best wishes,

Mithun Varkey

Editor, Asia Business Law Journal

Managing Editor, Law.asia