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Indonesia's ASEAN Chairmanship 2023 High-Level Policy Dialogue: ASEAN Digital Community 2045

4 August 2023

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Jakarta, 4 August 2023: A High-Level Policy Dialogue on Indonesia’s ASEAN Chairmanship 2023 was held at the St Regis Hotel in Jakarta, with a central focus on the imperative to lay the groundwork of the ASEAN Digital Community by 2045. It is essential to prioritize the realization of the ASEAN Digital Community 2045 as a key element within Indonesia's portfolio of objectives during its ASEAN Chairmanship in 2023.  

The morning session started off with the singing of Indonesia’s national anthem, Indonesia Raya. Indonesia's Minister of Trade Zulkifli Hasan, was represented by the ministry's Head of Trade Policy Agency, Dr Kasan, in giving the opening remarks highlighting the country’s role as ASEAN Chairman in 2023 in advancing the ASEAN agenda.

Satvinder Singh, Deputy Secretary-General for the ASEAN Economic Community, through recorded opening remarks, emphasized how the event would lead to formulating policies to promote ASEAN relevance in the global market.

The final opening remarks were delivered by the President of ERIA, Prof Tetsuya Watanabe, who spoke of how by working together toward a common goal, the establishment of an ASEAN Digital Community will strengthen the region and promote sustainable and equitable development, assuring a positive future for all in ASEAN’s digital era.

The policy dialogue continued with a plenary session, with Dr Lili Yan Ing, ERIA’s Lead Advisor for the Southeast Asia Region, delivering introductory remarks delving into the significance of robots and artificial intelligence (AI) in the context of a new economic era, and their positive impacts on productivity. The deployment of industrial robots and AI have led to noteworthy price reductions and enhanced productivity levels, both at firm and aggregate levels. She also addressed the influence of their adoption in developed countries on trade with developing countries, where exports from developing to developed countries expand in the sectors which experience the greatest robotization, and how widespread use of AI has led to increased services trade and improved consumer welfare.

Dr Ing then shifted her focus to labour and wages, highlighting three effects of robots and AI: displacement, productivity, and reinstatement. In closing her remarks, Dr Ing emphasized that technological advancements in robots and AI should be embraced rather than discouraged. She said it is our responsibility to ensure these advancements prioritize human welfare and are designed with a human-centric approach in mind.

Dr Ing then invited the keynote speaker, Jacob Viner Professor of International Economics at Princeton University, Professor Gene Grossman, to the stage. Prof Grossman began by highlighting the challenging aspects of globalization, including the rise of politics fraught with issues such as populism and nationalism, the emergence of illiberal policies, and the potential risk of global decoupling, exemplified by issues such as the US-China trade war. Prof Grossman highlighted the increasing importance of the role of trade in services in the future, and, in terms of policy recommendations, he offered several suggestions, such as investing in digital infrastructure to ensure accessible and reliable connectivity, establishing open and transparent telecommunications markets, and implementing safeguards against cybercrimes. He proposed simplifying regulations for service trade, ensuring compatibility between privacy and data protection measures with key trade partners, promoting service liberalization within multilateral and regional trade agreements, and focusing on training and adjustment initiatives.

The plenary session continued with a discussion chaired by ERIA economist Dr Doan Thi Thanh Ha, who extended an invitation to Enggartiasto Lukita, former Indonesia Minister of Trade, to take the floor. He highlighted the vision of the ASEAN Digital Community 2045 and proposed a concentrated effort toward nurturing a digital ecosystem under the ASEAN Economic Community framework. He also emphasized the pivotal role of economic integration in ensuring stability and prosperity for the region amid the evolving global economic landscape.

The policy dialogue continued into afternoon parallel sessions, divided into three thematic discussions. The first parallel session centred on the recovery and rebuilding of education and training systems for future skills. Chaired by Dr Daniel Suryadarma, Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) Research Economist, the session featured three speakers: Dr Jean Baldwin Grossman from Princeton University; Dr Maria Monica Wihardja, Visiting Fellow from ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute; and Dr Gog Soon Joo, Chief Skills Officer from SkillsFuture Singapore.

The second parallel session, moderated by Dr Fauziah Zen, ERIA’s Senior Economist, delved into digital transformation with a focus on services, finance, and payment. Speakers included Dr Reza Yamora Siregar, Head/Senior Executive Vice President of Indonesia Financial Group Progress; Brian A Wong, Advisor of Alibaba Global Initiative; and Fitria Irmi Triswati, Group Head of Retail Payment System/Director of Bank Indonesia.

Concurrently, the third parallel session centred on energy transition, highlighting sustainable development, and was chaired by Dr Han Phoumin, ERIA’s Senior Energy Economist. It featured three speakers: Dr Norasikin Ahmad Ludin from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia; Dr Le Thai Ha, Managing Director at VinFuture Prize of the VinFuture Foundation; and Dr Alloysius Joko Purwanto, ERIA Energy Economist.

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