US-ASEAN Business Council Digital Economy Report Launched!

Kuala Lumpur, 18 January 2017 – The US-ASEAN Business Council and Deloitte today presented a new report, The Digital Economy and the Free Flow of Data: Advancing the ASEAN Economic Community, to the Malaysian government and business community. The report highlights how ASEAN Member States can advance their digital economies and the ASEAN Economic Community through pro-growth digital data management policies.


US-ASEAN Business Council: Digital Economy Report

“The digital economy plays a strategic role as a critical enabler for deepening ASEAN regional integration and as well as helping drive next generation domestic demand led growth for startups and SME’s,” said Ambassador Michael Michalak, Senior Vice President and Regional Managing Director of the US-ASEAN Business Council. “We encourage Malaysia to lead in ASEAN by supporting policies on data management that allow member economies to benefit from greater efficiency, extended reach and lower costs.”

“Regional integration and the digital economy are both big opportunities in what is one of the world’s fastest growing regions. All manner of business, from the start-up to the regional champion as well as the multinational, will benefit if the AEC framework puts the digital economy front & center. Now is the time to do so,” Jeff Pirie, AEC Leader, Deloitte Southeast Asia, added.

In Malaysia and throughout ASEAN, these policies can support modern high-tech industries, enhance the development of e-commerce, help small and medium enterprises reach customers and optimize their businesses, enable financial inclusion, and encourage foreign investment. However, governments need to consider regulatory, legal and policy issues stemming from technology, platforms and providers.

Privacy, security, intellectual property and customer protection are some of the issues that need to be addressed if countries are to benefit from the digital economy. It is also essential to ensure that it is the risk, not the actor, that is regulated. Further, inter-agency cooperation is essential if ASEAN member states are to have effective digital laws and regulations as issues cut across many different sectors.

Amol Gupte, Citi Country Officer (CCO) for Singapore and Head of ASEAN said, “Digitization of financial services has a positive impact on ASEAN integration and the economies of Southeast Asia. To maximize the full potential of digitization across the region, there is need for a supportive policy framework. Particularly crucial is the ability to move data quickly and seamlessly across borders which will benefit trade, increase innovation and support financial inclusion. Citi is committed to helping our clients benefit from the opportunities digital networks bring such as in the area of payment innovation.”

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“In our increasingly interconnected world, the new trade routes are now digital and global businesses are increasingly relying on data flows to manage operations. With the recently announced Digital Free Trade Zone, Malaysia is well-positioned to harness the opportunities of the digital economy. As Microsoft works to empower every person and every organization to actively participate in the fourth industrial revolution, we recognize the importance of transparency, privacy, security and compliance in ensuring the smooth flow of data across borders, and are encouraged by our collective efforts to advance the ASEAN Digital Economy through inclusive people-centric enabling policies.” Jasmine Begum, Director, Corporate External & Legal Affairs (CELA) concurred.

The US- ASEAN Business Council and Deloitte forum was hosted at Microsoft’s office, and included a panel discussion on Malaysia’s digital economy and how the findings of the report can best be applied to support growth and innovation in Malaysia. The panelists included Claudia Chan, Regional Director, Government Affairs, Asia Pacific for Seagate; Jasmine Begum, Director, Legal, Corporate & Government Affairs, Microsoft Malaysia & New Markets; and Jeff Pirie, AEC Leader, Deloitte Southeast Asia. The panel was moderated by Ambassador Michael Michalak, Senior Vice President and Regional Managing Director of the US-ASEAN Business Council.

The report was developed by the US-ASEAN Business Council and Deloitte, with support from Cisco, Citi, Google, MasterCard, Microsoft, and Seagate.

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