The meeting also endorsed the Framework for Negotiating DEFA, which will guide the negotiations of the DEFA by exercising the objectives and principles of negotiations, examining the areas to be negotiated, and setting out the negotiation process and timeline.
Online trade among Southeast Asian countries is poised to gain speed and convenience, as ASEAN embarks on developing a fresh framework with the potential to unleash a staggering $2 trillion in its digital economy by 2030.
In the world’s economic map, ASEAN is a big brand name with its trade and business influences. ASEAN was officially founded on August 8, 1967, in Bangkok and is composed of ten Member States: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Cambodia. Over the years, ASEAN has established Dialogue Partnerships with various nations, including Australia, Canada, China, the European Union (EU), India, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russia, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States (US).
Moreover, ASEAN has Sectoral Dialogue Partnerships with countries like Brazil, Norway, Pakistan, Switzerland, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). To an extended frame, development partners such as Chile, France, Germany, and Italy have also engaged with ASEAN. Bangladesh’s interest in joining the sectoral dialogue format reflects the expanding cooperation within ASEAN.
You can also read: 30th ASEAN Regional Forum: How FM Momen pushed BD’s claim as Sectoral Dialogue Partner?
Bangladesh has a deep interest in ASEAN and this is what our people are very keen to know all about the ASEAN play with its magnitude of the future policy. On Sunday, September 3rd, the ASEAN initiated negotiations for the ASEAN Digital Economy Framework Agreement (DEFA), aiming to streamline cross-border digital trade, according to the news report.
The ASEAN DEFA negotiations began at the 23rd ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Council Meeting held in Jakarta, with Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry, Gan Kim Yong, leading the representation. This milestone follows the bloc’s gathering in Semarang, Central Java, in August, where they officially approved a DEFA study.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) of Singapore has highlighted that the framework’s primary objective is to enhance the ease of conducting business within the region by enhancing regulations in critical domains like digital trade facilitation and payments.
Additionally, MTI emphasized that the framework also seeks to tackle current pressing trends and advancements, including artificial intelligence.
The launch of negotiations on the ASEAN DEFA took place at the 23rd ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Council Meeting, held in Jakarta. Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong represented Singapore at the event.
Aiming to double regional digital economy by 2030
Findings from research carried out by the Boston Consultancy Group indicate that this agreement has the potential to double the regional digital economy, raising it from $1 trillion to $2 trillion by the year 2030. The target for concluding the ASEAN DEFA negotiations is set for 2025.
Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry, Gan Kim Yong underscored that the initiation of ASEAN DEFA negotiations builds upon the group’s past achievements.
‘This endeavor will digitally unite our region, edging us closer to achieving an open, secure, and competitive regional digital economy. Singapore eagerly looks forward to partnering with ASEAN member states to expedite the negotiations, thereby helping our companies seize emerging growth prospects, Gan expressed.
It’s noteworthy that ASEAN holds a pivotal role as Singapore’s leading trading partner in goods and represents the largest destination for Singaporean investments.
Singapore’s 2022 ASEAN Trade Soars 19%
In 2022, Singapore’s total trade in goods with ASEAN reached $344.3 billion, marking a notable 19% increase compared to the preceding year. Concurrently, Singapore’s investment in ASEAN for the year 2022 amounted to $23.9 billion, representing an 8% uptick from the previous year.
Annabel Lee, the Director for Public Policy in ASEAN at Amazon Web Services, emphasized the transformative potential of Defa in advancing the region’s digital aspirations and fostering socio-economic advancement. She expressed that DEFA would enable ASEAN to continue democratizing access to cutting-edge digital technology through cloud computing, catering to the diverse needs of fast-growing startups, established enterprises, and government agencies alike.
Similarly, Jamie Ko, the Director of Regional Public Affairs and Policy at technology firm Grab, underscored the significance of enhanced digital economic cooperation to unlock the untapped potential within the region’s diverse economies. She stressed that the establishment of interoperable digital economy systems, facilitation of cross-border data flows, and promotion of digital trade were all pivotal in constructing a trusted digital ecosystem that could propel growth across Southeast Asian economies.
ASEAN focuses on economic resilience
During the Sunday meeting, ASEAN underscored the imperative of enhancing implementation by revamping the processes within its economic community, thereby ensuring a resilient and prosperous future for the region.
Furthermore, the bloc endorsed a prior agreement reached by its ministers on sustainable energy security through enhanced interconnectivity.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) elaborated on this development, stating, “This initiative aims to diversify our energy supply chains by promoting the role of regional interconnectivity within the ASEAN Power Grid and the Trans-ASEAN Gas Pipeline.”
Among the topics slated for discussion during the 43rd ASEAN Summit and related meetings in Jakarta, scheduled from Tuesday to Thursday, the digital economy holds a prominent position.
In a recent post on its website, ASEAN heralded DEFA as a groundbreaking regionwide digital economy agreement, potentially the first of its kind globally. Additionally, the bloc announced that the inaugural meeting of the ASEAN DEFA negotiating committee is set to convene by the close of 2023.
The ASEAN DEFA Negotiating Committee (NC), headed by Thailand and comprised of Lead Negotiators representing all 10 ASEAN Member States, bears the primary responsibility for negotiating the DEFA provisions. These negotiations align with the principles, process, and timeline established within the Framework for Negotiating ASEAN DEFA. The inaugural session of the ASEAN DEFA NC is slated for the conclusion of 2023. Following this, subsequent meetings are planned for 2024 and 2025, to finalize the ASEAN DEFA negotiations by 2025.