The 56-year-old managing partner of Singapore law firm Joseph Tan Jude Benny LLP has an office in Yangon and is now one of the world’s experts on Myanmar maritime, a sector many are eyeing with excitement.
Plenty of shipping lines are looking at the Southeast Asian nation as an up and coming cargo growth area, but Benny warns patience is needed.
“To succeed in Myanmar you have to be in it for the long haul,” he says, adding: “You have to scratch beneath the surface to get the gold.”
It takes time to build relationships in the country, he says, but once you have then they remain firm friends.
The economy in Myanmar is emerging after decades as Southeast Asia’s backwater. This growth is noticeable at the ports where Benny has observed a huge increase in the tonnage coming into the country. In another five years Myanmar will be a significant exporter too, Benny reckons. Major infrastructure work will be needed along the nation’s seaboard, he stresses.
Describing the work of updating the nation’s maritime laws as a “huge project”, Benny has been impressed with the zeal and speed with which administrators have set about reforming the antiquated shipping scene. This has seen it sign up to the New York Arbitration Convention recently among other things, although there’s plenty more to do. The country wants to boost its fleet. To do this a credible ship registry is needed for banks to loan cash, Benny says.
Joseph Tan Jude Benny was set up in 1988 and has since established offices and partnerships across the world. Up next for the firm, says Benny, is a possible expansion into the Middle East.