On 16th July 2013 Myanmar became a contracting state to the New York Convention (NYC) on the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards that are made in other contracting states. To see the full list of 156 countries that have signed the New York Convention click here for list of updated contracting states.
Arbitration under the NYC provides a single forum for dispute resolution that is final and binding on all parties and is enforceable internationally in any of its signatory states.
On 5th January 2016, the Myanmar Arbitration Law was passed by the Myanmar Parliament. The Arbitration Law is largely based on the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNICITRAL) Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration. Basically under this arbitration law the Myanmar Court will recognized foreign arbitral awards and will help with its enforcement and will not interfere with its enforcement unless:
- the subject matter in dispute cannot be settled by arbitration under Myanmar law or
- if the enforcement of the award is contrary to the national interest of Myanmar.
Currently most joint venture contracts include a clause to arbitrate in Singapore International Arbitration Centre as Singapore is the main conduit for many international investments entering Myanmar due to its proximity and long commercial relationship.
There are however the usual execution risks when operating in an emerging market like Myanmar. The Myanmar judiciary has no experience in commercial arbitration nor in the enforcement of foreign arbitral awards. It is left to be seen how they will react if asked to enforced a foreign arbitration award against a state owned enterprise like Myanmar Oil & Gas Enterprise (MOGE) that is most active in signing contracts with foreign oil exploration companies.