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Empowering ASEAN 4.0 the ways forward to pursue and become ready for the transformation to the digital era

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Bangkok--22 Jan--Siam Commercial Bank

The ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN BAC) was inaugurated in April 2003 at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta, Indonesia. Its establishment was mandated by the ASEAN Leaders at their 7th ASEAN Summit, November 2001 in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam, as the official ASEAN linkage to provide private sector's feedback and guidance to boost ASEAN's efforts towards economic integration and to identify priority areas for considerations by the ASEAN Leaders.

2019 is an important year for Thailand as the Country takes over the Chair of ASEAN. At the same time ASEAN Business Advisory Council (or ASEAN BAC) Thailand to assume the ASEAN Private Sector's Chairmanship.

Khun Arin Jira, Chairman of ASEAN BAC explained that the focus of ASEAN BAC in 2019 would turn the theme set forth by ASEAN BAC Singapore in 2018 "Building Tomorrow, Connecting Today" to another page of "Empowering ASEAN 4.0".

The Seminar today is of the same name as the theme of the Private Sector "Empowering ASEAN 4.0" which implies the ways forward for our economy to pursue and become ready for the transformation to the digital era. Its priorities on initiatives around digital technology; regional connectivity in trade, payment, and people; and the inclusiveness and sustainability are in line with those of the Thai Government's national theme this year of "Advancing Partnership for Sustainability". The seminar was well attended, with Khun Kalin Sarasin, Chairman of JSCCIB and Board of Trade of Thailand, Khun Predee Daochai, Chairman of Thai Bankers' Association and Khun Supant Mongkolsuthree, Chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries attending as honorary delegates.

Khun Predee Daochai, Chairman of Thai Bankers' Association viewed that ASEAN countries should look towards cooperation which harmonizes regional standards and practices through establishing regional platforms to facilitate cross-country work on important initiatives as well as cooperation between the public and private sector in each member nation.

With rapidly advancing technology, telecommunication, and availability of broadband, ASEAN countries are moving towards digital economy brings lots of new opportunities and challenges. The theme "Empowering ASEAN 4.0", highlights 4 pillars or 4 main drivers to be addressed and pursued in 2019 and highlight priority issues for ASEAN and how to work together to make them happen.

Each of the driver will be the topic of discussion of the panels today as follows:
  • Digital Infrastructure
  • Digital Connectivity, a key driver for building seamless ASEAN or "One ASEAN"
  • Human Capital Development in the 4IR
  • MSME Capacity Building and Mentorship assistance

The panel discussion on ASEAN 4.0 or "Digitalized ASAEAN" would bring together key players to share their insights and strategies of the Digital Economy on the current and future trends. Across the world, digital products and services are transforming industries, enriching lives, and propelling progress. ASEAN has an opportunity to leapfrog to the forefront of the fast-moving global digital economy.

This session aims to identify the challenges 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 discussion will focus around key drivers that transform ASEAN into digital economy namely digital infrastructure, infrastructure finance, technology, rules and regulations facilitating domestic and cross-border transactions, cyber security, data protection and data sharing, regional collaboration and regional platform.

The second panel discussion will focus on the idea of building "One ASEAN" or "Seamless Connectivity" for movement of goods, investment, people, tourism and payments. Creating a common platform and harmonizing standards, rules and regulations would support the ONE ASEAN initiative.

The discussion aims to identify the challenges of building digital single market, enabling digital environment and improving digital infrastructure to become a force for the region's sustainability and prosperity.

The third panel discussion will focus on how ASEAN Community help MSME which is the most significant sector of most, if not all, ASEAN countries. MSME is a major contributor to GDP growth as it represents a large proportion of employment in each economy. In today's digital era, emerging MSMEs and start-ups are faced with rapid changes in business environments and consumer behavior. Extensive capacity building program would help MSME cope with the challenges. Hence, ASEAN would need to work together in enhancing MSME access to finance. The issue of building more creditable MSME, better credit infrastructure, and larger base of MSME lenders are formidable challenges. Other issues that need to be addressed are the enabling of digital trade and international data flow in supporting local and cross-border

Supply Chain, E-Commerce, Tourism and MSME border trade through the agreement on general interoperability mechanisms, cross-border protocols and standards, eliminating discriminatory digital tax measures, data localization requirements; credit information sharing; and secured transaction law reform, etc.

The discussion aims to identify key challenges of up-levelling MSME opportunity and competitiveness in the market, both domestic and international.

The fourth panel will discuss on how the emerging digital age and Fourth Industrial Revolution impact all aspects of society such as the way people interact, technologies involved, production process and skills required. The discussion aims to provide ASEAN economies a good indication of what needs to be changed, improved and digitalized. The panel discussion will also cover the opportunities and challenges of the 4IR transformation on women's opportunity in the economy, the future requirements on skills and competencies in the 4th IR; as well as the retraining and reskilling plan.

The discussion aims to come up with the way-out for ASEAN to strengthening regional cooperation in human resources development in the digital age.

Some of the comments and conclusions from the panel discussions today would be formed as part of the business recommendations of ASEAN BAC to the ASEAN Leaders and Economic Ministers. They would also be directions that the private sector in ASEAN would work together to achieve inclusive and sustainable growth in the region.

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