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ASEAN Paves Way for Epicentrum of Growth in Indo-Pacific: ERIA President Highlights Indonesia's Innovative Leapfrog

5 September 2023

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Jakarta, 5 September 2023: Indonesia's President Joko Widodo inaugurated the ASEAN Indo-Pacific Forum, a flagship event for the nation's Chairmanship of ASEAN 2023, organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and featuring the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) as a content partner.

ERIA participated in the Plenary Session on the General Outlook from the Region, which brought together key global leaders, including ERIA President Professor Tetsuya Watanabe, World Economic Forum (WEF) Chair Klaus Schwab, World Bank President Ajay Banga, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, and former Indonesian Minister of Finance Chatib Basri, who served as the moderator.

Prof Watanabe shared insights on Indonesia's remarkable advancements in governance, particularly in health and education. He commended the nation's 'leapfrogging' in these sectors, attributing the success to Minister of Health Budi Gunadi Sadikin's innovative approach in enhancing healthcare services through accelerator programs, catalysed by the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. He also said Minister of Education Nadiem Makarim revolutionised access to education through a digital platform, recognising the pivotal role of human capital development in long-term growth.

Prof Watanabe emphasised the significance of such public-private partnerships, stemming from President Widodo's visionary decisions in appointing these dynamic leaders to core ministries. He said that while there are no universal solutions, these collaborations offer a new ASEAN model for addressing global challenges, such as post-COVID health and education transformations, digital economy development, and sustainable and inclusive economic growth. Indonesia's bold reforms amid crises exemplify the innovative potential of ASEAN with effective partnership and leadership.

He added that ERIA collaborates closely with ASEAN partners to support vital initiatives addressing regional challenges. ERIA’s activities cover a wide range of policy issues, supply chains, trade and investment, innovation, the digital economy, the start-up ecosystem, the climate and environment, energy transition, and healthcare.

Prof Watanabe also spoke of the recent launch of the ERIA Digital Innovation and Sustainable Economy Centre (E-DISC), focusing on driving innovation, entrepreneurship, and building the ASEAN Start-up Ecosystem. The centre serves as a public-private policy platform, engaging stakeholders from policymakers and business leaders to entrepreneurs, investors, and civil society. It identifies key policy issues for digital innovation and sustainable growth, bolstering ASEAN's role in the global economy.

He also said ERIA has been collaborating closely with ASEAN leaders to prepare for the negotiations of the ASEAN Digital Economy Framework Agreement (DEFA). This initiative aims to establish a regional framework for digital technology and cyberspace governance, showcasing strong political commitment to cooperation. Prof Watanabe highlighted the potential of strengthening regional architecture as a global asset, promoting cooperation which can adapt to global uncertainties for long-term growth.

The ASEAN Indo-Pacific Forum, held 5-6 September 2023, brought together government and private sector leaders, international financial institutions, and international organisations. It included leader talks, panel discussions, talk shows, industry showcases, and business matching.

The forum serves as a crucial platform for ASEAN and the Indo-Pacific to collaborate and chart a course for mutual growth. Its primary focus revolves around addressing three critical future-oriented areas of common concern: green infrastructure and resilient supply chains, digital transformation and the creative economy, and sustainable and innovative financing. These three overarching themes took centre stage in the discussions and project showcases throughout the event.

ERIA is proud to have contributed as a content partner to the forum, part of the deliverables for the side event alongside the 43rd ASEAN Summit 2023. Dr Lili Yan Ing, ERIA’s Lead Advisor for Southeast Asia, also joined the event as the moderator for Panel Discussion 3 on Connecting the Connectivity Plans in Asia and Beyond.

As the ASEAN region continues to innovate and adapt, the ASEAN Indo-Pacific Forum is poised to be a catalyst for progress, laying the groundwork for a dynamic and prosperous future in the Indo-Pacific region.

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