US-ASEAN Business Council launches "A Vision for Cross-Border E-Commerce in ASEAN" report: Broad e-commerce prospects for ASEAN markets, but hurdles need to be overcome

(Singapore) – The US-ASEAN Business Council (US-ABC) launched its “A Vision for Cross-Border E-Commerce in ASEAN” report through a jointly organized workshop with the ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Electronic Commerce (ACCEC). Workshop participants discussed the report’s proposed programs and initiatives to advance ASEAN’s e-commerce ecosystem and its broader digital economy.

The report includes a vision map, which outlines how an integrated and harmonious cross-border e-commerce ecosystem in ASEAN could look, and identifies 12 proposed initiatives ASEAN sectoral bodies may consider to coordinate intra-ASEAN e-commerce. These initiatives are grouped into four different clusters: (i) strengthening the institutions of e-commerce in ASEAN; (ii) enhancing trust and recognition among different players; (iii) harnessing talent, innovation and capacity building for MSMEs; and (iv) developing seamless connectivity to boost e-commerce supply chains.

“With more than 650 million people, 60% of whom are under the age of 35, ASEAN has a young and tech-savvy population that is quick to adopt digital commerce and payment platforms,” said Alexander Feldman, the Council’s Chairman, President & CEO. He continued, “digital transformation in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic presents tremendous opportunities for SMEs, micro-entrepreneurs, FinTech players as well as consumers in the growing digital economic landscape. E-commerce will continue to play a critical role in fostering inclusive economic growth in ASEAN in the years ahead.”

Hajah Siti Hairmi Ibrahim, the Chair of the ACCEC from Brunei Darussalam’s Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications, welcomed the joint initiative with business community to advance e-commerce, which is in line with the three strategic thrusts of Brunei’s ASEAN Chairmanship 2021, focusing on recovery, digitalization and sustainability. She emphasized in her keynote address that “ASEAN is a promising region for inclusive and sustainable growth powered by e-commerce. To pursue further progress in e-commerce, ASEAN seeks to provide a harmonized approach to effectively implement regional e-commerce initiatives, including through the development of the ASEAN Work Plan on the Implementation of the ASEAN Agreement on Electronic Commerce 2021-2025”

“We applaud, and have long supported ASEAN’s continuing efforts to advance the facilitation of cross-border e-commerce through inter-governmental cooperation and to chip away at policy and regulatory barriers. The fast-moving e-commerce landscape today is driven by technological advances and urgent needs arising from today’s pandemic. This means that while ongoing efforts should continue, the public and private sector in ASEAN must concurrently come together to meet these new business realities head on. Through our report and workshop, we hope to inspire new ways of facilitating inter-operability that are practical, commercially meaningful, and can be brought to life swiftly,” stated the Vice President for Public Affairs and Sustainability at UPS Asia Pacific, Shiumei Lin.

The workshop featured three discussion sessions with experts from different industries and institutions, including the technology, payments, logistics industries and marketplace platform. Representatives from Google, Visa and Amazon spoke alongside UPS and sponsored the development of the e-commerce report. The launch workshop was attended by more than 200 participants from ASEAN government agencies, e-commerce associations, SMEs, and various U.S. and ASEAN companies.

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For over 35 years, the US-ASEAN Business Council has been the premier advocacy organization for US corporations operating within the dynamic Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Worldwide, the Council's membership, more than 160 companies, generate over $6 trillion in revenue and employ more than 13 million people globally. Members include the largest US companies conducting business in ASEAN, and range from newcomers to the region to companies that have been working in Southeast Asia for over 100 years. The Council has offices in: Washington, DC; New York, NY; Bangkok, Thailand; Hanoi, Vietnam; Jakarta, Indonesia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Manila, Philippines; and Singapore.