17 August 2021
During the 37th ASEAN Summit held in November 2020, the ASEAN Leaders adopted the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework (ACRF) and its Implementation Plan, which among others, called for acceleration of inclusive digital transformation through digital technologies in order to boost the economy, improve society in post-COVID-19 era and achieve long-term resilience.
With the increasing IR4.0 technologies driving the activities and services nowadays, and added by the high digital dependence among users, greater synchronisation through a Consolidated Strategy is then needed to drive 4IR within a region that has varying levels of digital readiness.
In addition to advancing the multitude of ASEAN’s digital work, the Consolidated Strategy on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) for ASEAN is currently being developed that also identifies specific initiatives that would contribute to the utilisation of 4IR technologies to boost the region’s competitiveness, and well-being, including by ensuring an inclusive digital transformation. This is running in tandem with the increasing pace of digital transformation in ASEAN, particularly amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which has pushed digitalisation to the forefront in ASEAN.
Therefore, various ASEAN sectoral fora have given support for digital transformation through various initiatives such as in the ASEAN Digital Masterplan (2021-2025), ASEAN Digital Integration Framework Action Plan (2019-2025), ASEAN Agreement on Electronic Commerce 2019, ASEAN ICT Master Plan 2020 and Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025. MPAC 2025 recognised Digital Innovation as one of five Strategic Areas to achieve the vision of a seamlessly and comprehensively connected and integrated ASEAN that will promote competitiveness, inclusiveness and a greater sense of Community.
During the 1st ASEAN Digital Ministers Meeting (ADGMIN) on 22nd January 2021, ASEAN adopted the ASEAN Digital Masterplan 2025 (ADM2025) with the vision to transform ASEAN as a leading digital community and economic bloc, powered by secure and transformative digital services, technologies and ecosystem. The ADM2025 outlines eight desired outcomes and 37 enabling actions that will guide ASEAN’s digital cooperation from 2021 to 2025.
The 1st ADGMIN also agreed to promote further cooperation with Dialogue Partners and to adopt a multi-stakeholder approach, where appropriate, in the implementation of digital programmes to achieve the intended objectives of the ADM2025.
The 1st ADGMIN also endorsed the Implementing Guidelines for the ASEAN Data Management Framework and ASEAN Cross Border Data Flows Mechanism, which build on the principles and initiatives of the ASEAN Framework on Personal Data Protection and ASEAN Framework on Digital Data Governance to harmonise data management and cross border data flows standards in the ASEAN region, raise the digital competitiveness of ASEAN Member States by establishing a trusted, transparent and accountable environment for doing business, and build ASEAN’s readiness to take up new digital opportunities. This will prepare ASEAN to work with other regional and global partners on creating interoperable data management and cross border data flows standards globally.
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The Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN was founded on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok by the five original Member Countries; Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Brunei Darussalam joined ASEAN on 7 January 1984