ASEAN’s Digital Economy: Unleashing Hidden Potential

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The Big Picture

ASEAN’s digital economy, encompassing all online commercial activities, is poised for substantial growth. According to Google and Temasek, it is projected to soar from the current $300 billion to nearly $1 trillion by 2030.

But here’s the kicker – there’s a vast trove of untapped potential lurking behind a thicket of fragmented government regulations, as the head honchos within the ASEAN secretariat reveal.


  • Let’s delve into the nitty-gritty
    • There are different transfer data laws across ASEAN: this is costly and a bit old-school especially for small businesses as it requires set-up in each market and adds to costs, security and duplication
    • Cross-border payment pipes are slow or broken: About one-third of regional firms report losing online export sales as they are unable to accept payments from foreign customers
    • Paper-based trade docs: needed at each border are slow, cumbersome and bring a lot of cost to small business


The Road Ahead for ASEAN

It might be a slow gust, but the winds of change are blowing in the ASEAN digital economy. Here’s the story on the reforms ahead:

  • In September, ASEAN members formally launched negotiations for the ASEAN Digital Economy Framework Agreement which seeks to address many of these issues. Negotiations are set to conclude in 2025.
  • Having concluded the ASEAN Single Window in 2019, member nations are now on a multi-speed journey to implement. They’re also encouraging other members to join including Japan.


Australia-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement gives Australian companies an edge:

Now, for the million-dollar question, or shall we say the trillion-dollar question? Australia’s got the edge; it’s time to run with it. Australian companies have a cheeky ace up their sleeves.

  • With the Australia-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement in play, data can flow freely between Australia and Singapore for business purposes.
  • That’s a win, and here’s why: it gives Australian companies the upper hand. No more shelling out for data storage centres or relying on local computing hubs just to do business and removal of paper-based trade documents.



This is one of a six-part series looking at the business opportunities for businesses across the Australia – Southeast Asia corridor. The insights are powered by Via Communications Group: a communications agency focused on supporting international businesses with their cross-border communications needs across Asia. You can check them out at

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