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ASEAN needs to promote digital infrastructure development for small businesses, individuals

ASEAN needs to promote digital infrastructure development for small businesses, individuals

17 Jan 2021

ASEAN should build a new economic ecosystem by promoting the development of digital infrastructure that is accessible for both small businesses and individuals to reinforce its economic recovery efforts and promote sustainable and inclusive growth.

The Royal Thai Embassy in Malaysia said this will help to ensure that the group can be part of the growing digital economy in the region, which is estimated to contribute more than US$240 billion in the next five years.

“On our part, Thailand is developing ‘ASEAN Digital Hub’, which will help enhance digital infrastructure in ASEAN, as well as ‘Digital Park Thailand’, as part of our Eastern Economic Corridor.

“The private sector will play an important role in the development of infrastructure and technology and innovation businesses through PPP (Public-Private Partnerships) investment,” the embassy said in an email interview with Bernama in conjunction with the 1st ASEAN Digital Ministers’ Meeting (ADGMIN1) to be chaired by Malaysia on Jan 21 and 22.

Malaysia’s Minister of Communications and Multimedia Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah will chair the ADGMIN1 via teleconference.

The embassy said that apart from building physical infrastructure, it is equally important to promote digital integration to inclusively enhance business opportunity in the region.

It said that in 2019, ASEAN has successfully completed the live operation of the ASEAN Single Window (ASW) for all ASEAN Member States, which serves as an important milestone.

The ASW is the environment that provides the secure information technology (IT) architecture and legal framework that will allow trade, transport, and commercial data to be exchanged electronically among government agencies and private sectors in the region.

“But ASEAN needs to look beyond ASEAN Single Window and work towards full digitalisation to become ‘Digital ASEAN’. This involves the promotion of digital payment connectivity and comprehensive digital trade,” it added.

The embassy said the Thai government developed the country’s National Digital Economy Masterplan which covers a period of 20 years; and over the past few years, it has launched various new laws and regulations to support the implementation of its digital economy policy.

It said that in 2018, it was estimated that approximately 17 per cent of Thailand’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was derived from the digital economy. It is forecasted that the contribution will increase to 25 per cent in 2027.

Thailand’s market value of its digital economy is considered the second largest in ASEAN, it said.

Meanwhile, the embassy said Thailand and ASEAN member states recognise the importance of technology and the increasing pace of digital transformation, especially the accelerated adoption of digital technologies in coping with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The issue of digital disparity has always been one of the key elements in the ASEAN ICT Masterplan.  ASEAN is committed to addressing the manifold digital gaps in skills, infrastructure, and regulations both within and across the ASEAN Member States, as well as the risks and challenges that digitalisation entails,” it added.

The embassy said ADGMIN1 will provide a good opportunity for ASEAN member states to discuss and share experiences on their responses to the emerging challenges in the digital spectrum, especially in the current COVID-19 pandemic’s socio-economic landscape.

It said the COVID-19 situation provides the region with an opportunity to accelerate inclusive digital transformation, and being well-equipped with technological skills and capabilities will open a door for ASEAN that will lead to future progress and success.

“We would like to emphasise the important role of digital technology in achieving an inclusive, resilient, and sustainable economic growth in the region. Thailand is looking forward to the adoption of the ASEAN Digital Masterplan 2025 which will serve as the roadmap for ASEAN towards achieving that vision,” it said. 

The ASEAN Digital Masterplan 2025 is expected to be adopted at the ADGMIN1.

Themed “ASEAN: A Digitally Connected Community”, the meeting seeks to strengthen cooperation among ASEAN countries towards building digital ecosystems as a pillar in the post-COVID-19 development plan.

Source: Bernama

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