ASEAN economic ministers sign agreement to bolster regional e-commerce

ASEAN economic ministers signed an e-commerce agreement during the ASEAN summit 2018, to reaffirm the region's commitment to facilitate cross-border e-commerce transactions. The agreement looks to create an environment of trust and confidence in the use of e-commerce as well as strengthen cooperation in intensifying the use of e-commerce in the region.

In addition, the agreement will streamline rules governing e-commerce and help businesses navigate the regulations across ASEAN countries, as well as lower operating barriers to entry. According to Singapore Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, the ASEAN Economic Community looks to prepare the community and its people for a more "uncertain" time and an era of digital transformation.

Chan said that the agreement will "encourage" the use of paperless trading between governments and businesses, according to Channel NewsAsia. He added that this can generate "rapid and efficient" transactions in ASEAN, and that businesses will be able to access and move data across borders "easily".

Currently, the digital economy accounts for 7% of ASEAN GDP. However, when fully tapped, it can uplift the region’s economy by US$ 1 trillion by 2025.

In addition, the ASEAN Digital Integration Framework was adopted at the meeting. The Framework identifies six areas to be implemented over the next 12-18 months that would have significant effects on digital integration. These include facilitating "seamless" trade, protecting data while supporting digital trade and innovation, as well as enabling digital payments. The framework also looks to broaden the digital talent base, while fostering entrepreneurship and coordinating actions.