A photo illustration of e-commerce shopping. ASEAN’s study on a digital economy framework agreement is set to reach completion in 2023. (Antara Photo)
Jakarta. A study on an ASEAN digital economy pact is slated to reach completion this year, according to the top brass of the Southeast Asian bloc’s secretariat.
The study is expected to give impetus to the negotiations on the group’s Digital Economy Framework Agreement (DEFA). As the name suggests, the DEFA has become one of ASEAN’s strategies to become a “leading digital economy”.
“The study will provide guidance … to help in the commencements of the DEFA negotiations, involving the 10 ASEAN member states. It will be a crucial step for ASEAN to become a leading digital community and economy bloc,” Satvinder Singh, the deputy secretary-general for the ASEAN Economic Community, told the recent 2023 ASEAN-Korea Trade & Investment Roundtable.
“Fundamentally, this is going to put ASEAN on the global map. I don’t think there is any region in the world that has a digital agreement in place today,” Singh said.
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The DEFA study is part of the Bandar Seri Begawan Roadmap (BSBR). The roadmap states that ASEAN should start the DEFA negotiations by 2025.
ASEAN first adopted the BSBR in 2021 against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic that had sped up digital transformation across the region.
The BSBR lays out plans to develop an enabling environment for a robust ASEAN digital economy. Some key objectives include the simplification of business processes through technology in cross-border trading.
“Good progress has been made in BSBR implementation, especially in the areas of paperless trade, the establishment of digital payments between member states, consumer protection, and the strengthening of e-commerce,” Singh said.
Work is also underway to set up digital identities in ASEAN, according to Singh.
“[As well as on] building the capacities of our member states to be able to adopt UNCITRAL Model Law so we can move in tandem with the rest of the world in digital trade,” he told the conference.
Jayanty Nada Shofa
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