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June 4, 2024

US-ASEAN Business Council Companies Present Insights and Best Practices to Support Digital Economy Framework Agreement (DEFA) Negotiations

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DEFA Policy Retreat 2024
June 4, 2024

(Bangkok, Thailand) On June 5, the US-ASEAN Business Council (the Council) co-organized a US-ASEAN Digital Economy Policy Retreat for the Digital Economy Framework Agreement (DEFA) with the Thailand Ministry of Commerce, Chair for the DEFA Negotiating Committee. The policy retreat kickstarted the Council’s 2024 DEFA Workshop Series which looks into adding value to the DEFA negotiation process and aims for a high-quality, interoperable, and commercially meaningful agreement. This initiative is supported by AWS, Google, Citi, Chubb, Mastercard, SAP, Stripe, Qualcomm International Inc., and Visa. 

The policy retreat was targeted to foster comprehensive discussions and strategic dialogue between the DEFA negotiators and industry stakeholders to amplify the benefit of the DEFA for ASEAN’s economy. The retreat featured industry professionals and academics who provided perspectives on digital trends, existing digital agreements, global standards, and alignment with global best practices. It also delved into mechanisms to enhance collaboration between the public and private sectors to boost ASEAN's digital economy.  

“We are organizing this policy retreat to support and equip the DEFA negotiators with insights and best practices, from leading U.S. companies who are members of the US-ASEAN Business Council, on critical elements of a digital economy ecosystem to aid in the formulation of the DEFA. That is, our companies can offer real-world, practical examples because they do this in the US and around the world,” said Amb. Brian McFeeters (ret.) – Senior Vice President and Regional Managing Director of the Council during his opening remarks. 

“Amazon is committed to supporting ASEAN negotiators to achieve a high-standard DEFA. This complements our mission of democratizing access to Cloud and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies for all businesses, big and small, and governments in ASEAN. Through strong commitments in areas such as cross-border data flows, digital payments, cybersecurity and AI, DEFA can unlock the full potential of ASEAN’s digital economy,” said Annabel Lee, Director, ASEAN Public Policy, AWS.   

There were three thematic topics at the policy retreat. The first session on Digital Payment Connectivity provided a deep dive discussion on international standards and interoperability of digital payments, cross-border financial data flows, associated opportunities, and the future of payment systems such as digital currency and innovative forms of payment. This was followed by a Data Governance and Cybersecurity session, where participants discussed the impact of cross-border data flow restrictions and data localization, the importance of a principles-based approach to data governance, and the need for robust digital infrastructure for further digital financial inclusion and sustainable development. The last session covered the topic of Digital Infrastructure and Emerging Technologies focusing on Artificial Intelligence (AI), which covered building digital infrastructure as an enabler for the digital economy, AI and trends that are affecting digital infrastructure as well as policy strategies for AI innovation. 

Following the policy retreat, the Council will be organizing two sets of capacity-building workshops. These workshops aim to equip negotiators with technical assistance and a comprehensive understanding of the digital ecosystem, ensuring that DEFA provisions are relevant and aligned with current digital economy trends and needs.

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