Legal Updates for November 2020

SEC Requires the Creation and/or Designation of an Official E-mail Address and Cellphone Number

On 27 August 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") issued SEC Memorandum Circular No. 28 Series of 2020 requiring corporations, partnerships, associations, and persons under the jurisdiction and supervision of the SEC to create and/or designate an official e-mail address and cellphone number for transactions with the SEC.

SEC Requires Declaration of Beneficial Ownership for Foreign Corporations

Beginning 5 November 2020, all foreign corporations registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") are required to update their General Information Sheets ("GIS") with information on beneficial ownership pursuant to Memorandum Circular No. 30, series of 2020 ("SEC MC No. 30-2020"). SEC MC No. 30-2020 provides that foreign corporations must now comply with the guidelines provided in Memorandum Circular No. 15, series of 2019 on the submission of the Beneficial Ownership Declaration page which will be attached to the GIS.

SEC Waives Fines and Other Monetary Penalties for Non-filing and Late Filing of Reportorial Requirements

Republic Act No. 11491, or the Bayanihan Act 2, enumerates response and recovery interventions to mitigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country. One of the interventions include a directive to the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") and other agencies to provide regulatory relief to affected business activities and transactions.

Pursuant to the directive, SEC issued Memorandum Circular No. 31, Series of 2020 which waives the imposition of fines and other monetary penalties for violations incurred from 14 September 2020 to 19 December 2020. These violations refer to non-filing or late filing of General Information Sheets, Audited Financial Statements, and other reportorial requirements that SEC may require, and non-compliance with compulsory notification.

Signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement by 15 Asia-Pacific Countrie

On 15 November 2020, the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ("ASEAN") – Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam – in conjunction with Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand, signed the world's largest free trade agreement to date, known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership ("RCEP") Agreement.

Representing the culmination of eight years of negotiations, the RCEP builds on existing bilateral FTAs among the 15 RCEP Participating Countries ("RPCs"). Together, the RPCs account for about 30% of global gross domestic product and close to a third of the world's population. It signals the RPCs' strong commitment to maintaining open and connected supply chains; broadens individual RPCs' economic linkages and connectivity with the region; and gives them preferential access to the region's growing markets.

We provide an overview of the features of the RCEP below, which improves on the existing ASEAN Plus One agreement in four key areas:

  1. comprehensive trade facilitation measures;
  2. improved market access for Trade in Services;
  3. enhanced investment rules and disciplines; and
  4. expanded scope and commitments.