Digital economy is key for ASEAN economic integration

Digital data management is key in advancing the digital economies within the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Economic Community, according to a report from the US-ASEAN Business Council and Deloitte.

ASEAN includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

“The digital economy plays a strategic role as a critical enabler for deepening ASEAN regional integration and as well as helping drive next-generation domestic demand led growth for startups and SME's," said Alexander Feldman, president and CEO of the US-ASEAN Business Council. 

“We encourage ASEAN governments to create policies on data management that allow member economies to benefit from greater efficiency, extended reach and lower costs,” said Feldman.

Jeff Pirie, AEC leader for Deloitte Southeast Asia, said regional integration and the digital economy are both big opportunities in what is one of the world’s fastest growing regions. 

“All manner of business, from the start-up to the regional champion as well as the multinational, will benefit if the AEC framework puts the digital economy front and center,” said Pirie.

In Singapore and throughout ASEAN, these policies can support modern high-tech industries, enhance the development of e-commerce, help small and medium enterprises reach customers and optimize their businesses, enable financial inclusion, and encourage foreign investment.

However, governments need to consider regulatory, legal and policy issues stemming from technology, platforms and providers.  Privacy, security, intellectual property and customer protection are some of the issues that need to be addressed if countries are to benefit from the digital economy. 

Also, it is essential to ensure that it is the risk, not the actor, that is regulated. Further, inter-agency cooperation is essential if ASEAN member states are to have effective digital laws and regulations as issues cut across many different sectors.

“To maximize the full potential of digitization across the region, there is need for a supportive policy framework,” said Amol Gupte, Citi Country Officer (CCO) for Singapore and head of ASEAN.

“Particularly crucial is the ability to move data quickly and seamlessly across borders which will benefit trade, increase innovation and support financial inclusion,” said Gupte.