The digital economy is becoming a new growth point for China-Asean economic and trade cooperation
Over the past 10 years, from the traditional agricultural sector and energy industry to the burgeoning new energy and digital technology sectors, Indonesia has seen more and more cooperation and connection with China, Arsjad Rasjid, chairman of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council, told China Economic Weekly in an interview last month.
Indonesia, which holds the rotating Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) chair this year, has achieved remarkable progress in its digital economy with support from Chinese companies, witnessing a booming e-commerce market, plenty of digital platforms for online business, easy mobile payments, and innovative financial products and services.
More Chinese companies are expected to expand their investment in Indonesia, deepen communication on technology and experience, and promote digitalization and technological development in local enterprises.
China and ASEAN, the world’s second- and fifth-largest economies, the cumulative of which has surpassed one-fifth of the world’s total and with a projected contribution of almost 40 percent to global economic growth this year, according to the International Monetary Fund, have highly valued the digital economy as an important thruster for high-quality development.
Last year, China’s digital economy reached 50.2 trillion yuan (roughly $7 trillion), ranking second globally.
Southeast Asia’s digital economy, despite economic headwinds, “remains on course to reach nearly $200 billion in gross merchandise value in 2022” with a 20 percent increase, according to the latest e-Conomy SEA report by Google, Temasek and Bain & Company, saying that was three years earlier than they had expected.
China and ASEAN countries are geographically adjacent, complementary in industrial structure and culturally linked, contributing to advantages in cooperation. As their cooperation areas broaden, the digital economy has become one of their top priorities in recent years, facilitating the launch of more initiatives and projects.
In January 2021, the first ASEAN Digital Ministers’ Meeting adopted the ASEAN Digital Masterplan 2025, proposing to build ASEAN into a leading digital community and economic bloc powered by secure and transformative digital services, technologies and ecosystems.
The Action Plan on Implementing ASEAN-China Partnership on Digital Economy Cooperation was approved in 2022.
ASEAN’s digital economy is expected to increase from 1.3 percent of GDP in 2015 to 8.5 percent by 2025, said ASEAN Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi.
Multiple pragmatic projects have been implemented, promoting digital exchanges and connectivity.
In June 2022, east China’s Jiangsu Province and Cambodia launched the “Silk Road E-commerce” platform, providing a new opportunity for small- and medium-sized enterprises in Cambodia to export their high-quality agricultural products to China.
Located in Nanning, south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, the China-ASEAN BeiDou/GNSS (Nanning) Center, as part of the China-ASEAN Information Harbor project launched in 2016, serves as an important platform for stimulating the development of the BeiDou system in ASEAN and deepening international cooperation.
The China-ASEAN Information Harbor Co., Ltd. has implemented businesses such as the Internet of Things and cloud computing centers in ASEAN countries including Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, effectively boosting the transfer of advanced technologies in the field overseas.
More recently, an initiative on Southeast Asia digital economy development cooperation was launched at the 2023 Southeast Asia Regional Cooperation Conference in Jakarta, Indonesia, on September 1.
The initiative, jointly launched by China Mobile, the country’s leading telecommunications operator, and partners from Southeast Asia, including Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Brunei, aims to promote the digital transformation of industries in Southeast Asia and foster the development of the digital economy in the region.
The company said it is willing to move forward with its partners to accelerate collaboration between the digital economies of China and Southeast Asia, with a focus on digital economy infrastructure, network resources, 5G applications and the digital ecosystem.
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