29 April 2020
On 6 March 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Myanmar (“SECM”) issued an instruction (“Instruction”) prescribing the requirements that securities companies shall adhere to for the opening of securities accounts by foreigners to enable daily share trading of listed company shares on the Yangon Stock Exchange (“YSX”). Trading of listed company shares on the YSX by foreigners is allowed from 20 March 2020.
Both a resident foreigner and a non-resident foreigner, as defined in the Foreign Exchange Management Law (“FEML”), can apply for a securities account. The FEML defines a resident as follows:
- Individuals having been physically present or having had their main residence in Myanmar for at least 183 days during the preceding 12 months, with the exception of diplomatic personnel;
- Companies incorporated in Myanmar or domestically registered branches of foreign companies;
- Myanmar civil servants on diplomatic missions or other assignments abroad.
1. Establishment of securities account
- Resident foreigners: A securities company, upon receipt of an application for a securities account, can issue a letter recommending the opening of a Resident Kyat Account for Securities (R-KAS), which is a Myanmar Kyat (“MMK”) current account. This account can only be used for securities trading and the resident foreigner must submit a written confirmation to the securities company that this account will not be used for other purposes.
- Non resident foreigners: A securities company is also able to issue a letter for a non-resident foreigner recommending the opening of a Non-Resident Kyat Account for Securities (N-KAS), a MMK current account, as well as a Non-Resident Foreign Currency Account for Securities (N-FAS), which is a foreign currency current account. These accounts are to be used for securities trading and a written confirmation must be provided to the securities company that these accounts will not be used for other purposes. The Instruction notes that the securities company shall only issue a recommendation letter after completion of the securities company’s Know Your Customer (KYC) process.
- Securities brokers: If applicants for a securities account are securities brokers abroad, securities companies shall ensure the following before opening the securities account:
- The securities brokers abroad and their customers are regulated by laws which are at least equivalent to the Securities Exchange Law in Myanmar;
- The securities brokers abroad are under the supervision of related authorities of their home countries; and
- A copy of the securities broker’s brokerage license and a notarised English translation must be submitted to the SECM.
2. Additional requirements
- Residency status: Securities companies must check at least annually the accuracy of its foreign customers’ residency. Securities companies shall not accept any additional buy orders from a foreign customer if their residency status has changed, until the change is reflected in the company’s records and in the type of account allocated. This can also only be done subject to the securities company’s anti-money laundering and customer acceptance policies.
- Reporting requirements: Securities companies must provide YSX with the gross amounts of shares bought and sold and total outstanding value of shares held by resident and non-resident foreigners on a monthly basis. YSX is obliged to then provide this information to SECM.
- Voting rights: Voting rights shall not be granted for shares related to foreign ownership above the pre-determined limit, which is the percentage of foreign ownership that each listed company shall allow, as informed to YSX.
- Accounts: Foreigners are able to hold only one securities account at a time. Further, a resident and non-resident foreigner cannot hold a securities account jointly.