The Asean economic community (AEC) council ministers backed the consolidated strategy on the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) during the 20th council meeting, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) reported.
The trade department said in a news statement issued on Wednesday that the consolidated strategy provides the regional bloc a “whole-of-Asean” approach in taking advantage of the 4IR amid the pandemic.
In addition, DTI said it identifies cross-pillar initiatives in the areas of innovation and technology enablers, human capital, regulatory frameworks for e-commerce and e-government, connectivity and infrastructure, and inclusive and sustainable growth, among others.
“The unprecedented global trends such as the rise of protectionism, 4IR, and the Covid-19 pandemic, has made it more important for Asean to look into the gaps and areas for development that are crucial to address emerging global trends,” Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said.
The consolidated strategy focuses on the following areas: technological governance and cyber security, digital economy and digital transformation for society.
It aims to develop an “open, secure, transparent, and connected Asean that harnesses technologies, embraces innovation in transforming society, and contributes to social progress and sustainable development.”
The 4IR initiative is also parallel with the Asean Comprehensive Recovery Framework, which outlines the economic bloc’s strategy to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. The said framework stresses the urgency of accelerating inclusive digital transformation to ensure resilience across the region.
“Amidst the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, the digital economy has emerged as a growth area marked by an increased adoption of digital technologies for the continued provision of goods and services,” Lopez said.
“Taking these into consideration, it is all the more important for the region to accelerate policies and initiatives both at the domestic and regional level that would facilitate the greater adoption of the digital economy and to make use of digital trade also as an enabler, as we accelerate the process of free trade and the reduction of Non-tariff Measures (NTMs) among our economies,” he added.
The consolidated strategy is set to be adopted at the 38th and 39th Asean Summit and Related Summits this month.
For its part, DTI has been preparing the country for the 4IR through the implementation of Inclusive Innovation Industrial Strategy (i3S), which is centered on innovation and science and technology.