How Asean’s new US$2 trillion digital economy pact paves the way for seamless trade, data flow

NEGOTIATIONS are under way for the Asean Digital Economy Framework Agreement (Defa), which will be the world’s first regional digital economy agreement (DEA).

The first round of talks began at the start of December last year, and the aim is to wrap things up by 2025. Already, there are some calls for the discussions to be sped up.

In a new position paper that lists its recommendations for the Defa, the EU-Asean Business Council (EU-ABC) stressed the “urgency for Defa’s implementation”.

The agreement aims to develop rules for seamless digital trade and secure data flow between member states.

“(Defa) has the potential to propel Asean’s digital economy to US$2 trillion by 2030, doubling the current trajectory,” the EU-ABC wrote, citing figures by the Boston Consulting Group. “We hope that the agreement goes beyond token and voluntary gestures, steering towards binding, tangible, and transformative outcomes.”

As the negotiations go deeper, BT looks at the key principles outlined by Asean leaders and how Defa will eventually serve the region.