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ASEAN members agree on inclusive, interoperable DPI for stronger economic integration

ASEAN members agree on inclusive, interoperable DPI for stronger economic integration

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has reached important agreements with the view to accelerating the building of inclusive, trusted and interoperable digital public infrastructure (DPI) to foster socio-economic integration within the region.

These were arrived at during the recent ASEAN Digital Ministers’ Meeting (ADGMIN) hosted by Singapore from February 1-2.

In a declaration issued at the end of deliberations, the ASEAN bloc said it agreed to “develop a high quality, open, safe, flexible, interoperable digital public infrastructure and e-government services to connect people and businesses in ASEAN, to develop a digital ecosystem, undergirded by robust efforts to enhance cybersecurity.”

While members also agreed to strengthen trust in their digital ecosystems by fostering data-driven innovation and encouraging the responsible use and transmission of data, they noted that this will be possible only with the “adoption of regional guidelines, common principles and frameworks.”

Due to the rapidly advancing changes in technology, the bloc also agreed to intensify collaboration on the governance of emerging technologies such as generative AI, including through the establishment of an ASEAN Working Group on AI Governance. Relatedly, the meeting also endorsed the ASEAN Guide on AI Governance and Ethics which spells out how the region intends to deal with and maximize the power of AI-related technologies while minimizing their harm.

Building stronger synergy for the expansion of connectivity and cooperation on better combatting cybercrime are two other points also endorsed during the Singapore meeting.

To make good on these digital transformation plans, the Southeast Asian countries recognized the need to strengthen cooperation among themselves and with other relevant partners through “technical assistance, knowledge-sharing, and capacity building, to bridge the digital divide, enhance digital literacy, develop digital skill workforce, enhance connectivity and strengthen resiliency of digital infrastructure for a common ASEAN vision and identity.”

This new commitment from ASEAN aligns with the bloc’s Digital Economy Framework Agreement (DEFA) which has been in negotiation for the past year, with the talks expected to extend to 2025.

ASEAN DEFA seeks to harmonize efforts aimed at integrating and further developing the economies of the ten-member countries of the regional grouping.

The Singapore meeting noted the end of work on the final report of the study on the ASEAN DEFA and the progress with negotiations.

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