ASEAN is the fastest growing Internet market in the world. With 125,000 new users coming onto the Internet every day, the ASEAN digital economy is projected to grow significantly, adding an estimated $1 trillion to regional GDP over the next ten years.
However, many significant roadblocks stand in the way of realizing this potential.
For most ASEAN countries, the roadblocks include, among other things, inadequate digital infrastructure; restrictions on cross border flow of data; absence of harmonized rules and regulations on e-commerce including questions around data protection, blockages at customs, burdensome business licensing processes, and absence of digital payment solutions; shortage of digital human capital; absence of regional e-payment systems and regional digital identity frameworks; weak resilience against cyber-attacks; and lack of empirical evidence to inform ASEAN digital policy.
ASEAN has laid out important policy measures and frameworks, including the AEC Blueprint 2025, Masterplan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025, and the e-ASEAN Framework Agreement, to address these roadblocks. However, meeting these ambitious goals will demand detailed research, visionary policy-making, and substantial buy-in from regional stakeholders.