ASEAN Leaders Vow To Accelerate Digital Development

The leaders of the ASEAN member states and the United States pledged at the end of October to support the digital development in the Southeast Asian bloc in order to drive robust and inclusive economic growth.

The countries will also explore ways to accelerate economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic by strengthening cooperation on digital trade, the leaders said in a joint statement at the end of the 9th ASEAN-U.S. Summit held online on 26 October.

The leaders decided to “support ASEAN’s vision for a leading digital community and economic bloc, powered by secure and transformative digital services, technologies and ecosystem, and undergirded by a secure and resilient cyberspace that fosters trust and sustainable growth in the digital economy.”

ASEAN will look to promote the development of secure, resilient, and innovative 5G ecosystem and networks.

The bloc and the US will also explore cooperation in areas including smart manufacturing, blockchain applications, and trade facilitation.

They will also aim to enhance digitalisation and e-commerce of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and work to cooperate in the latest technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and 5G, digital connectivity, cross-border data flows, data governance cybersecurity, digital financial services and regional payment connectivity, and digital health.

ASEAN and the US will also support the improvement of digital inclusion in the Southeast Asian region, including for women, young entrepreneurs, and vulnerable or marginalised groups, via promotion of digital and financial inclusion in MSMEs, capacity-building activities, facilitating access to finance and alternative financing, mentorship, technical assistance, technologies, and sharing of best practices.