Digital Economy and Development: An ASEAN Perspective

SYNOPSIS

The digital economy or the digitalization of economic activity is the disruption we are all facing today. It amounts to billions of everyday online connections among people, businesses, institutions, devices, data and processes. The growth of the digital economy in Southeast Asia has been exponential in the last 5-8 years. The current technological disruption is unprecedented in terms of speed and pervasiveness. It is changing production processes and products, new forms of consumption, fixed capital formation, cross border flows and finance, and the way we live. How should ASEAN governments and other stakeholders deal with this? On one hand, there are development dividends of greater inclusion, efficiency and innovation, which will provide new sources of growth, jobs and potentially reduce inequality. On the other, there are risks of increasing inequality if connectivity is not combined with capacity building; social tensions in managing the transition from traditional to new business models and job losses vs jobs created; concentration with the winner takes all model; and issues to do with privacy, and security risks. What is the role of government and a digital development strategy that balances innovation but manages the risks? How can this be an opportunity to leap frog and what should be the digital development strategy? What is the implication for ASEAN economic integration given the ‘fifth freedom’ of data flows and how should ASEAN and international agreements deal with these issues moving forward?

 

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Digital Economy and Development: An ASEAN Perspective
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