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Charting ASEAN’s Digital Future: Emerging Policy Challenges

01 Jun Charting ASEAN’s Digital Future: Emerging Policy Challenges

Media Release
For Immediate Release

SIIA’s special report calls for attention to ASEAN’s digital economy challenges and opportunities
Dialogue between ASEAN Member States and private sector should be fostered

1 June 2022 – As the digital economy grows in ASEAN, there is a need for interoperability, regulatory certainty, capacity building, and sustainability. These recommendations were shared in a report by the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA) that was launched today at the Asia Tech x Singapore (ATxSG), co-organised by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) Singapore and InformaTech.

Titled “Charting ASEAN’s Digital Future: Emerging Policy Challenges”, the report examines the current state of the digital economy in ASEAN and the policy risks and commercial concerns in digitalising ASEAN. Insights for the report were garnered through a series of roundtables and interviews held between November 2021 to April 2022.

“With the digital economy growing rapidly, the digital-sustainability nexus – both for the planet and our peoples – will need to be considered. Going digital must also mean going green. As businesses digitalise, there is an opportunity to adopt climate change mitigation measures to allow for long-term growth,” said Associate Professor Simon Tay, Chairman of the SIIA.

“Digitalisation has the ability to divide societies or create paths towards a more inclusive society,” Ms. Jessica Wa’u, Deputy Director (ASEAN), SIIA. Commenting on the geopolitical risks, “The threat of bifurcation in technology systems would be detrimental for ASEAN that does not want to be forced to choose between sides,” she added.

The “Charting ASEAN’s Digital Future: Emerging Policy Challenges” report outlines some key areas for cooperation, and these include:

  1. Capacity building in the area of digital skills, especially for SMEs that are the lifeblood of ASEAN’s economy.
  2. Promoting interoperability of rules and standards, especially with regard to cross border data flows.
  3. Collective efforts from ASEAN to tackle the social and environmental impact of digitalisation – by equipping SMEs, by greening data centres, and starting discussions on regional net zero goals.


The “Charting ASEAN’s Digital Future: Emerging Policy Challenges” report can be downloaded from the SIIA website at this link. The report is sponsored by Huawei, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google, Hinrich Foundation and SAP.

For further enquiries, please contact the SIIA

Media Contacts
Mr. Lim Choon Leng
Director, Policy Programmes



About the Singapore Institute of International Affairs

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Established in 1962, the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA) is a non-profit and independent think tank committed to producing policy analysis, fostering in-depth dialogues and bridging gaps between policymakers, private sector decision-makers and experts to shape public policy and social responses. Centred around ASEAN focused themes, the institute aims to deliver policy analysis in international affairs and on issues driving environmental sustainability. The SIIA has been consistently ranked as one of the leading think tanks in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, in the Global Go To Think Tank Index by the University of Pennsylvania. Since 2017, the SIIA was ranked the No. 1 independent think tank in Asia. It was also recognised as one of the top 50 think tanks globally, excluding the United States of America. For two consecutive years since 2019, it was recognised as the No. 1 think tank in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific (excluding India). In 2020, it was also recognised as one of the think tanks with the best policy and institutional response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

About the SIIA’s ASEAN Programme

The SIIA’s ASEAN programme produces policy analyses and facilitates dialogue on how politics and socioeconomic policies in ASEAN impact business and investment in the region. Also closely watched are emerging trends in key economies as well as ASEAN’s relations with major partners China, Japan, the USA and the EU. In recent years, the SIIA has done key work on Myanmar and Indonesia, providing assistance and advice in close cooperation with their government agencies. Key research output includes special reports evaluating the changing political and economic landscape as well as the business and investment opportunities of the respective countries. Key platforms developed by the SIIA to facilitate dialogue are the ASEAN and Asia Forum (AAF) and the ASEAN Myanmar Forum (AMF). These events bring policy makers and the business community together to facilitate dialogue about the region’s political, economic and strategic challenges.