ASEAN looks to the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Authors: Jayant Menon and Anna Fink, ADB

When the leaders of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) gather for the 31st ASEAN Summit in the Philippines in November 2017, they will also celebrate ‘ASEAN at 50‘ — a testimony to ASEAN’s endurance and durability as the longest-running regional grouping of developing countries in the world.

A major item on the agenda will be regional security and addressing the rising tide of terrorism. This takes ASEAN back to its roots, having been born as a political–security pact during the Vietnam War.

Workers are seen assembling a Mitsubishi Pajero at the Mitsubishi car factory in Bekasi, West Java province, Indonesia, 25 April 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Beawiharta).

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Indeed, ASEAN’s role in sustaining peace and stability in Southeast Asia is often undervalued if not outright overlooked. It’s easy to see why. War can never go unnoticed but peace can be easily. ASEAN deserves its share of the credit for delivering the peace dividend. But moving forward, its economic success may depend on a different kind of cooperation.

The summary of key outcomes from the 49th ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting in September noted that the overall thematic priority of the 2017 Summit will be ‘inclusive, innovation-led growth’. This will be supported by three strategic measures: increasing trade and investment, integrating micro, small and medium enterprises …continue reading