Illustrative photo (Photo: ASEAN SAS)

Singapore (VNA) – Singaporean Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran has called on ASEAN member nations to deepen regional digital connectivity in order to position the region for the growing opportunities in innovation and the digital economy, and to be better prepared to meet future challenges.

Addressing the recent Digitise ASEAN Conference in Singapore, S Iswaran said in ASEAN, some estimate that the digital economy has the potential to grow to 200 billion USD by 2025, with e-commerce alone accounting for 88 billion USD.

A survey conducted by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) on ASEAN outlook in 2017-2018 showed that most of the questioned enterprises affirmed ASEAN as an important market in their business expansion strategies in 2018 and 2019.

They said they would prioritise Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar to expand their business activities in 2018-2020.

S Iswaran said ASEAN must first address the challenges posed by the digital economy, while handling issues that constrain businesses’ ability to participate in the digital economy, including policies relating to data flows and localisation, intellectual property, cyber security, and digital trade facilitation.

As the ASEAN Chair in 2018, Singapore is working with other ASEAN member states on specific initiatives such as the ASEAN Agreement on e-Commerce that advances trade rules in e-commerce, lowers businesses’ operating barriers to entry, and builds up greater digital connectivity, to facilitate e-commerce flows in the region.

This will provide a platform for aspiring entrepreneurs, start-ups and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises to market their products and services regionally, he said.

The minister highlighted three areas of opportunity for ASEAN businesses, comprising business-to-consumer or B2C through e-commerce platforms; supporting services such as payments, insurance, logistics, fraud detection, marketing and customer service; and infrastructure like e-commerce and data centres.


ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.-VNA