Mon, Nov 12, 2018 – 5:50 AM
In an increasingly dynamic and technologically-guided world, all governments face challenges and opportunities in deciding which investment and policies should be applied today to stimulate innovation, while protecting their own people and finally developing the best possible societies for tomorrow.
As the countries of ASEAN continue their individual socio-economic journeys in an effort to jointly build a regionally integrated and globally integrated economic community ASEAN (AEC) with the potential to become the fourth largest economy in the world by 2050, more than 150 members of the US Business Council -Asean (USA-ABC) is looking forward to continuing its long-standing partnership with ASEAN.
ASEAN is the Asia's main regional economic center and enters a digital age based on power with a young population and almost universal mobile penetration, as it seizes the opportunity to seize the power of transformative technologies to support the next-generation engines for growth.
Given that more industries want to embed technology in their core business, the ASEAN digital economy is also expected to grow by 500 percent, and by 2025 it will cost more than $ 200 billion.
ASEAN's technocentric associations are also attracting more attention from global investors, and investment financing more than three times – from $ 2.5 billion in 2016 to $ 7.9 billion in 2017 – which contributed to the creation of 12 unicorns in Southeast Asia.
As ASEAN leaders gather this week and begin to think about Singapore's chairmanship of ASEAN in 2018, US-ABC activities throughout the year – including business missions, SME training programs, USE-ASEAN internship program and participation in ministerial meetings – enabled us to test the progress that is being made and the potential recovery in meeting the digital economic potential of the region.
Adaptation to the digital age
We welcome the significant efforts made by ASEAN to adapt to the digital age by pushing forward deliveries such as the ASEAN E-Commerce Agreement and the ASEAN Digital Integration Frameworks.
However, we also recognize the concerns of public governments regarding data privacy, cyber security, digital payments and the impact of technological disorders.
As partners with ASEAN, we believe that larger public-private partnerships, including those with the US private sector, can support the development of technical understanding and skills among institutions.
This will, in turn, help governments implement best practice and standards in the world, promote innovation, and at the same time promote security and equip small and medium-sized enterprises and larger local and regional companies with the necessary tools for success in the digital age.
Digital landscapes continue to evolve, and ASEAN economies, at varying degrees, are all looking to formulate laws, policies and regulations that regulate different components of the digital economy in order to successfully implement national and regional industrial environments 4.0, smart cities and e-commerce , as well as FinTech Initiatives.
If the digital economy is indeed a progress for all ASEAN countries to achieve the AEC 2025 goals, regional and national digital regulatory frameworks, which are, in their nature, protectionists will be counter-intuitive.
Equally, trade policies that attempt to nationalize versus modernizing the free and secure movement of goods, services, capital, skills and data across borders will in particular limit economic opportunities for SMEs and consumers in the 21st century.
US-ABC expects to explore opportunities to expand its capacity-building efforts with government bodies through ministerial engagements, workshops and study missions, so that ASEAN can tap the world's best practices in regulatory frameworks of digital economy from sources such as the APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Forum ), OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) and other forums to position themselves as "global ASEAN".
We believe that the concept of centralizing ASEAN is more important than ever, because the strength of ASEAN in the digital economy is in its number.
When the third-largest population in the world is increasingly interconnected, cyber threats to member states, institutions and citizens of ASEAN are naturally widespread.
With growing regional interconnectedness, the need for developing an elastic regional cyber security ecosystem is key to addressing systemic risks for critical infrastructure and building citizens' confidence in the use of new technologies and payment systems.
US-ABC is proud to support working groups for national and regional cyber security in ASEAN and welcomes the Leadership Council in Singapore as ASEAN chairman in launching the CiberSecuriti Center for Excellence ASEAN-Singapore for Improvement and Capacity and Political Cooperation in the region.
For nearly 35 years, US-ABC has promoted US business in ASEAN and ASEAN in the United States.
We also cooperate with other foreign and local trade associations as well as chambers of commerce across the region to support the AEC 2025 vision of the deeply integrated and highly integrated ASEAN economy.
US-ABC has consistently supported the development of the AEC and believes that in the current global environment, deepening regional integration in the strategic interests of ASEAN.
"Digital economy" will soon become only an "economy," and ASEAN is set to take advantage of this digital age.
Whether the region can remain robust, safe and innovative will depend on how it looks to develop its policies to adapt to this ever-expanding area.
By preserving our vision of an integrated region and by supporting robust multi-stakeholder engagement platforms, we believe that ASEAN will be well prepared to stay connected, inclusive and sustainable in the digital age.
- The writer is the President and Executive Director of the US-ASEAN Business Council.