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Digitize ASEAN 2019 to Spur Closer Collaboration to Propel ASEAN’s Digital Economy

  • Governments, businesses and the workforce need to collaborate to propel ASEAN into a digital-driven economy
  • Launch of ASEAN Applied Research Centre to develop solutions for growing supply chain infrastructure and logistics needs
Monday, 30 September 2019 [Singapore] Digitize ASEAN, jointly organised by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC), pushed for stronger collaboration between three key groups of stakeholders: governments, businesses and the workforce.

In its third year, Digitize ASEAN brings together key industry players from both the public and private sectors to share insights on current digitalisation trends and their impact on businesses in the region.

Themed “Growing ASEAN’s Digital Future”, the conference also witnessed the launch of the ASEAN Applied Research Centre (AARC), which aims to bring together ASEAN researchers to develop innovative solutions collectively and resolve real world challenges faced by businesses in the region. (Please see Annex A for more information.)

More than 250 participants, including policymakers, senior business leaders and academia from across the region, attended the conference. Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry Mr Chan Chun Sing participated in a dialogue session which was moderated by Mr Chia Kim Huat, Regional Head of Corporate & Transactional Practice, Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP.

Driving Digital Connectivity
In his welcome speech, Dr Robert Yap, Chair of ASEAN-BAC Singapore, called on governments of ASEAN member states to provide a conducive environment for the adoption of digital technologies like cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI), while enhancing their connectivity networks for seamless communication.

Mr Arin Jira, Chair of ASEAN-BAC 2019, highlighted the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on businesses, and called for ASEAN to embrace and harness disruptive technologies for growth.

In the afternoon, Mr Dang Hoang Hai, Director-General, Department of eCommerce and Digital Economy, Vietnam, gave a presentation on the blueprint for Vietnam’s digital future, while Mr Teeranun Srihong, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners, Digital Economy Promotion Agency, Thailand, shared with attendees Thailand’s digital masterplan. Two panel discussions focused on “Digitizing Supply Chains” and “Preparing the ASEAN Workforce for the Future”.

Participants also heard from companies like Huawei Cloud Southern Pacific Region, Standard Chartered Bank and SAP Ariba on topics such as advanced digital technologies like AI, cloud and 5G, as well as redefining digital financial supply chain.

SBF CEO Mr Ho Meng Kit said, “ASEAN countries are steadily implementing digital economy strategies to reap the full benefits of the internet economy. This presents abundant opportunities for Singapore companies, especially in e-commerce and its supporting digital services such as payment solutions, fraud detection and digital marketing services. Technology is also transforming the logistics eco-system across the region. Singapore companies, with their expertise, can leverage new technologies to provide efficient, smart end-to-end supply chains.

“Through Digitize ASEAN, SBF hopes to connect our companies to opportunities in the region and also to share insights on the developments in ASEAN’s digital growth.”

Dr Robert Yap urged the ASEAN business community to take a holistic approach in the development of its digital capabilities. He said, “Developing digital business capabilities goes beyond having the latest hardware. Software capability, in terms of human empowerment and development, as well as heartware readiness, in terms of mindset across the company, are equally important factors to be developed.”

Potential of the ASEAN Digital Economy
According to the World Economic Forum1, ASEAN is the fastest growing Internet market in the world. With 125,000 new users coming onto the Internet every day, the ASEAN digital economy is projected to grow significantly, adding an estimated US$1 trillion to the regional GDP over the next 10 years.

In financial terms, the region’s digital economy is projected to be worth more than US$200 billion by 2025. This is a 400 percent increase from 2017’s US$50 billion2.

In order to ensure sustainable growth in this area, ASEAN has laid out important policy measures and frameworks, including the AEC Blueprint 2025, Masterplan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025, and the e-ASEAN Framework Agreement. Strong collaboration between governments, businesses and the workforce will also contribute to the realisation of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, which is to build a competitive, innovative and dynamic economic community by embracing evolving digital technology, among other ways3.


1 https://www.weforum.org/projects/digital-asean

2 https://www.enterprisesg.gov.sg/overseas-markets/asia-pacific/asean/profiled-industries

3 https://www.asean.org/storage/images/2015/November/aec-page/ASEAN-Community-Vision-2025.pdf

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