Tap on new tech­nolo­gies: PM

The Myanmar Times - - Business -

THERE is “tremen­dous po­ten­tial” if the As­so­ci­a­tion of South-east Asian Na­tions (Asean) can join hands with China, Ja­pan and Korea in min­ing the op­por­tu­ni­ties of new tech­nolo­gies, Prime Min­is­ter Lee Hsien Loong said on Tues­day (Nov 14).

Ramp­ing up dig­i­tal in­no­va­tion across Asean will be one of Sin­ga­pore’s pri­or­i­ties as it chairs the group­ing next year, Mr Lee said at the Asean Plus Three (China, Ja­pan and Korea) Sum­mit in Manila.

The Repub­lic hopes to do so by build­ing up an e-com­merce frame­work, cy­ber ca­pa­bil­i­ties and cre­at­ing an Asean “net­work of smart cities”.

Not­ing that China, Ja­pan and Korea are al­ready at the fore­front of tech­no­log­i­cal adop­tion, es­pe­cially in e-com­merce and smart cities, Mr Lee added: “There is tremen­dous po­ten­tial if we com­bine ef­forts and take ad­van­tage of one an­other’s strengths.”

By 2025, Asean’s dig­i­tal econ­omy is pro­jected to ex­pand five-fold to about US$200 bil­lion (S$272.1 bil­lion).

Speak­ing at the start of the sum­mit, Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe said the sig­nif­i­cance of fi­nan­cial co-op­er­a­tion be­tween Asean Plus Three na­tions be­comes “in­creas­ingly greater” in the face of con­cerns such as the rise of an “in­ward-look­ing ori­en­ta­tion” glob­ally.

This is to im­prove the “pre­dictabil­ity of the economies of the re­gion and the world, to mit­i­gate vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties, and to main­tain and strengthen the free­trad­ing sys­tem”, he ex­plained.

South Korea Pres­i­dent Moon Jaein added: “We must take our­selves to a new level to re­alise (a) co­op­er­a­tive mech­a­nism that pro­vides pro­tec­tion and care to the lives of our mem­bers in the re­gion.”

Mr Lee said that be­sides find­ing in­no­va­tive ways to har­ness the op­por­tu­ni­ties af­forded by new tech­nolo­gies, the Asean Plus Three mech­a­nism can be strength­ened by ad­vanc­ing eco­nomic and fi­nan­cial in­te­gra­tion and all par­ties work­ing to­gether to main­tain re­gional peace and sta­bil­ity.

“Re­gional se­cu­rity is the cor­ner­stone of our growth and de­vel­op­ment,” he said, as he re­it­er­ated Sin­ga­pore’s deep con­cern about the sit­u­a­tion in the Korean Peninsula and con­dem­na­tion of re­cent provo­ca­tions by North Korea.

Asean Plus Three has been a “valu­able mech­a­nism” in the re­gional ar­chi­tec­ture since it was set up 20 years ago, he noted.

Dur­ing tough times, such as fi­nan­cial down­turns and the Se­vere Acute Res­pi­ra­tory Syn­drome epi­demic in 2003, the forum has fos­tered col­lab­o­ra­tion and a “sense of col­lec­tive ac­tion”, and nur­tured co-op­er­a­tion in fields from tourism to ed­u­ca­tion and food se­cu­rity, he added.

On Tues­day, the lead­ers adopted the Manila Dec­la­ra­tion on the 20th An­niver­sary of Asean Plus Three Co-op­er­a­tion, which charts the pri­or­i­ties for the road ahead, among other things.

To ad­vance eco­nomic and fi­nan­cial in­te­gra­tion, Mr Lee urged Asean and its Plus Three part­ners to press ahead with prac­ti­cal projects of com­mon in­ter­est so as to pro­mote con­nec­tiv­ity.

For in­stance, cruise tourism is a “par­tic­u­larly promis­ing” sec­tor where in­fras­truc­tural and peo­ple-to-peo­ple con­nec­tiv­ity can be deep­ened.

Mr Lee noted that tourist flows across East Asia are soar­ing, with China, Ja­pan and Korea form­ing more than a quar­ter of tourist ar­rivals into Asean in 2015, an in­crease from just over one-fifth in 2014.

He added that there were po­ten­tial ar­eas of con­ver­gence be­tween Asean’s mas­ter plan to im­prove phys­i­cal, in­sti­tu­tional and peo­ple-to-peo­ple con­nec­tiv­ity in the re­gion, and the three part­ner-coun­tries’ ini­tia­tives.

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