Digital ASEAN is one of the initiatives of the World Economic Forum = through its “Shaping the Future of Digital Economy and Society” and Shaping the Future of International Trade and Investment” projects.
ASEAN is the fastest growing Internet market in the world with 125,000 new users coming onto the Internet every day. Because of this dynamic digital growth, the ASEAN digital economy is projected to grow significantly, and will add 1 trillion USD to regional GDP over the next ten years. However, many significant roadblocks stand in the way of realizing this potential.
For most ASEAN countries, the roadblocks can include: inadequate digital infrastructure; restrictions on cross border flow of data; absence of harmonized rules and regulations on e-commerce including questions around data protection, blockages at customs, burdensome business licensing processes, and absence of digital payment solutions; shortage of digital human capital; absence of regional e-payment systems and regional digital identity frameworks; weak resilience against cyber-attacks; and lack of empirical evidence to inform ASEAN digital policy.
ASEAN has laid out important policy measures and frameworks, including the AEC Blueprint 2025, Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025, and the e-ASEAN Framework Agreement, to address these roadblocks. However, meeting these ambitious goals will demand detailed research, visionary policy-making, and substantial buy-in from regional stakeholders.
In response to demand from public and private sector regional partners in ASEAN, the WEF has launched the “Digital ASEAN” project to develop a sustainable, inclusive, and trustworthy regional digital economy in ASEAN. In particular, the WEF plans to address the identified roadblocks to help build a digital single market, build an enabling digital environment and improve digital infrastructure in ASEAN so that the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution can be fully unlocked, and become a force for the region’s sustainability and prosperity.
The WEF’s “Digital ASEAN” work-stream will comprise a portfolio of projects and initiatives, which will focus on the following three broad areas:
1 Towards a digital single market
o Enabling e-commerce
o Cross-border data flows
2 Building enabling digital eco-systems
o Digital entrepreneurship
o Digital human capital
o Digital identity
o Cyber resilience
o Better research for evidence-based digital policy
3 Infrastructure and digital access
o Digital infrastructure
o Digital literacy
The WEF plans to involve a community of interested parties in ASEAN, collectively convened and managed will decide on which of the areas are of greatest priority. Each chosen area will have its own multi-stakeholder working group.
One of the main communities involved in the work will be the Forum’s ASEAN Regional Business Council, a group of 70 companies with a deep interest in the Forum’s activities in South-east Asia. These companies come from a wide range of sectors, but all recognize the need to develop a regional digital economy in ASEAN. Alongside these businesses, the Forum will add participants from ASEAN governments, international organizations, regional organizations, and academia.
Sitting above these working groups will be a Board of Advisors, whose role is to guide and shape the portfolio of work. The Board of Advisors, to be established by the end of February 2018, includes 15 individuals who are ASEAN Ministers of Digital Economy, ICT, and Commerce, the ASEAN Secretary General, business leaders, and thought leaders from academia.
For more information – See the following report:
ASEAN 4.0: What does the Fourth Industrial Revolution mean for regional economic integration?