On 1st November, the UK-ASEAN Business Council (UKABC) co-hosted a ASEAN-UK Business Reception together with the ASEAN Business Advisory Council and the British Embassy in Bangkok on the eve of the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit in Thailand. Over 200 guests attended from ASEAN, Thailand and the UK to build and strengthen relationships.
Dr. Aladdin Rillo, Deputy Secretary General for ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) at the ASEAN Secretariat gave the main address of the evening. During his remarks he highlighted some of the important key achievements of the AEC on trade, investment, finance, technology, competition policy, and intellectual property right, which reflect the key areas of interest of the UK.
AEC Achievements for 2019
Dr. Rillo began by highlighting ASEAN’s achievements under the AEC:
- Endorsement of ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA) Operational Certification Procedures (OCP) to allow the ASEAN Wide Self-Certification (AWSC) Scheme and Certificate of Origin (CO) Form D;
- Signing of the ASEAN Trade in Services Agreement (ATISA);
- Entry into force of the Protocol to Implement the 10th AFAS Package;
- Signing of the 4th Protocol to Amend the ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement (ACIA);
- Launching of two innovative financing mechanisms under ASEAN Infrastructure Fund; and
- Endorsement of ASEAN Framework on Digital Data Governance.
Dr. Rillo went on to state that the most important aspect of digital technology is the seamless flow of data and he noted that ASEAN has committed to the efforts in strengthening the region’s data ecosystem, achieving legal and regulatory alignment of data regulations and governance frameworks. He also noted the importance of fostering of data-driven innovation across ASEAN Member States to boost the growth of digital economy in the region.
Dr Rillo highlighted the initiatives under the ASEAN Framework on Digital Data Governance are intended to develop ASEAN’s data ecosystem that is interoperable with other systems such as the APEC Cross-Border Privacy Rules (CBPR) and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The work under the areas of data classification and cross-border data flow has just started under the Telecommunications and Information Technology Senior Officials Meeting (TELSOM)’s Working Group on Digital Data Governance (WG-DDG) and has included plans to engage with relevant stakeholders from the private sector in due course.
Dr Rillo encouraged the UKABC to develop recommendations and initiatives related to digital technology and noted the ASEAN Secretariat stands ready in channeling the recommendations to the relevant ASEAN sectoral bodies.
Dr. Rillo concluded his remarks by highlighting Infrastructure Financing. Recognising the existing gap in infrastructure financing, the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025’s Initiative 1 envisages the establishment of an ASEAN infrastructure project pipeline featuring well-structured and economically viable physical infrastructure projects that could attract public and private sector investments in ASEAN Member States (AMS).
ASEAN launched the Pipeline, including pre-feasibility studies, reviews of existing studies and financing options analysis for selected infrastructure projects, on 2 November 2019. ASEAN would explore suitable financing approaches and support for the projects in the Pipeline with various partners, such as multilateral development banks, Dialogue Partners, and other external partners, where appropriate (https://asean.org/connecting-region-initial-pipeline-asean-infrastructure-projects/).
Dr. Rillo welcomed potential cooperation with interested UKABC partners on the broader sustainable infrastructure development, infrastructure financing strategies and public private partnerships (PPP).