Next five years crucial for Asean digital economy

THE next five years is crucial for Asean to develop and create an inclusive digital economy community, according to Dr. Le Quang Lan, Assistant Director for ICT and Tourism, ASEAN Secretariat.

“Next five years is a crucial phase to transform ASEAN towards an inclusive, sustainable and integrated digital economy community,” he said during the Digital Trade Forum co-organised by NIKKEI Group and ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute (ISEAS)

“This process requires strong commitment from ASEAN Member States, effective coordination efforts among sectoral bodies of ASEAN, and greater contribution of relevant stakeholders, including the private sector,” Dr Le added.

The joint forum was organised to allow governmental organisation, think tank and industry online to extend a closer look at cross-border digital trade frameworks and supply chains, as the ASEAN economic and free trade bloc agreed to develop a digital trade pact.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is an important building block for regional trade, together with other FTAs in the region.

The forum also deliberated on how the region can further implement and develop regulatory forms such as FTAs to facilitate digital trade and economy, seizing the chance to lead in digital era based on collaborations, mutual-agreed standards and better governance.

Meanwhile Jay Chen, Vice President of Huawei Asia Pacific said the firm is committed to provide infrastructure, connectivity, nurture start-ups and cultivate digital skilled talents under the promise of “In Asia Pacific, for Asia Pacific.”

“The pandemic has shifted the focus of anti-globalisation forces from trade liberalisation to capital, labor and data mobility,” according to Dr. Jayant Menon, Visiting Senior Fellow at ISEAS, who also highlighted opportunities from digitisation for win-win outcomes that benefit all countries in the region, whatever their stage of digital transformation.

Speakers on the forum also underscored the importance of investing in digital infrastructure with blended vertical industrial development and private sector funding.

To address better the concerns of the digital divide, cybersecurity and data management (especially between less-
developed countries and front-runners), private companies are valuable contributors to policy-making because they help to shape realistic regulations that are business friendly, respond to common interests and bridge social gaps such as internet infrastructure and digital skills. –TMR