Sights cast on collaborating towards sustainable digital future

Izah Azahari

Each ASEAN member state has its own unique social, economic and geo-political blueprint, and it is through these uniqueness and differences that ASEAN demonstrates the dynamism and wealth of opportunity for businesses.

Dynamik Technologies Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chair of ASEAN Business and Investment Summit (ABIS) 2021 Haslina Taib said this in her welcoming remarks during the opening of the ABIS 2021 yesterday.

There are, however, mutual challenges the region is encountering together, especially the COVID-19 pandemic and the changes it brings, she said.

“The shifting sands of COVID and our uncertain future could be called liminality. With liminality, we no longer hold our previous state as we go through a transition. We are at a juxtaposition where we can create a fluid state that will enable new ways or new norms to be synchronised and adopted.

“ASEAN member states all vary, but their aims are the same – which is the need for economies to recover sustainably in the new normal,” Haslina said.

The CEO also pointed out that ASEAN is Canada’s sixth largest trading partner, with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of USD2.8 trillion and population of 643 million.

Dynamik Technologies Chief Executive Officer and Chair of ASEAN Business and Investment Summit 2021 Haslina Taib speaks at the summit. PHOTO: ASEAN BAC BRUNEI

The Canada-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement will see Southeast Asian expansion of trade and investment across many sectors, including financial services, ICT, energy, infrastructure and resources. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom (UK) has become a dialogue partner to ASEAN.

The total trade between the United Kingdom (UK) and ASEAN stood at GBP32.3 billion early this year.

“There is huge potential to create more jobs and to boost trade, investment, education, science and technology. Many of us in ASEAN look to advance technologies such as the Internet of Things, AIs (artificial intelligences) and blockchain to prepare for our near future, today,” she said.

Haslina also touched on programmes in ASEAN, such as Go Digital, that aims to provide micro and small businesses in urban and rural areas with digital skills; Brunei’s legacy project dubbed ‘Harnessing Impact with Resilient Employability Digitally’ (HIRED) that aims at strengthening human capital and future workforce; and the adoption of the ASEAN Travel Corridor Arrangement Framework (ATCAF) during the November 2020 ASEAN Summit to smoothen the flow of travel for both trade and diplomacy, and in time, progressing to a safe and staggered reopening of tourism activities.

“Today, we will see a solution from the private sector of an ASEAN digital gateway and travel wallet, with a prototype that aims to provide a collaborative platform to redefine regional travel, to see each other again safely,” Haslina said.

She also touched on the regional roundtable discussion on fintech and financial inclusion that calls for more affordable, convenient and easily accessible banking, made seamless across all platforms through secured framework and technology infrastructure.

“During this liminality, through collaboration and commitment of progressive public sectors and proactive businesses, we can build a sustainable digital future together,” Haslina said.