Understanding the ASEAN Digital Economy Framework Agreement: A Means to Support ASEAN Integration
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has accelerated the importance of digital technologies in the economy, particularly in e-commerce and digital financial services. Recognising the importance of digital technologies for economic recovery, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders signed the Bandar Seri Begawan Roadmap in 2021, which laid the foundation for the integration of the ASEAN digital economy in three phases – recovery, implementation, and transformation – and affirmed their interest in the establishment of a Digital Economy Framework Agreement (DEFA). The DEFA aims to deepen existing digital economy cooperation and ensure the interoperability of digital economy systems. The formulation and signing of the DEFA will require the provision of flexible timelines and technical assistance, as the ASEAN Digital Integration Index shows that ASEAN is still in the early stages of digital economy development and that ASEAN Member States are at different levels of readiness for digital economy integration.