ASEAN launches regionwide Digital Economy Framework Agreement

The purpose of the ASEAN Digital Economy Framework Agreement (DEFA) is to integrate ASEAN’s digital economy further and ensure the interoperability of digital economy systems.

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The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has initiated talks about a Digital Economy Framework Agreement (DEFA) to create and implement digital public infrastructure within its ten-member bloc. These negotiations began during an ASEAN Economic Community Council (AECC) meeting in Jakarta on 3 September, where key elements were agreed upon to guide the process.

The authorization for DEFA negotiations was granted during the 55th meeting of ASEAN Economic Ministers on 17 August, following their endorsement of a study on the proposal for a digital economy framework.

These negotiations will encompass nine primary areas, including digital trade, cross-border transactions, cybersecurity, digital identification, digital payments, cross-border data flow, and other emerging technology-related topics. It is estimated that DEFA could potentially add up to $2 trillion to the regional economy while enhancing its global competitiveness.

Thailand chairs the DEFA negotiations committee, which includes lead negotiators and experts from all ASEAN member countries. The first committee meeting is scheduled for later this year, with additional meetings planned for 2024 and 2025.