Digital Economy Framework Agreement

Negotiations are under way for the ASEAN Digital Economy Framework Agreement (DEFA), which will be the world’s first regional digital economy agreement. The agreement aims to develop rules for seamless digital trade and secure data flow between member states and focuses on nine key areas of the digital economy, including cross-border data flows, digital ID, talent mobility, and cooperation on emerging topics such as artificial intelligence. The Boston Consulting Group says that the DEFA has the potential to grow ASEAN’s digital economy to $2 trillion by the year 2030. The first round of talks began last December with a goal to wrap things up by 2025. It won’t be easy as different ASEAN members have very different views on things like data privacy, cybersecurity, the need for localization, etc.

AmCham’s Innovation & Digital Economy Committee invites members to a virtual discussion about the DEFA on June 19. Guest presenters from CSIS and The Asia Foundation will give an overview of the DEFA negotiations, opportunities for Vietnam and the region, and some of the more difficult areas for the countries to reach agreement on.

Guest Speakers

Kati Suominen 2

Kati Suominen

Center for Strategic & International Studies

Kati Suominen is an adjunct fellow with the Scholl Chair in International Business at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, focusing on digitization, disruptive technologies, and trade. She is also the founder and CEO of the Los Angeles-based Nextrade Group, which helps governments, multilateral development banks, and Fortune 500 technology companies enable trade through technology. Dr. Suominen has built dozens of data and analytical products and pilot initiatives, as well as eight global initiatives and public-private partnerships to enable digital trade, the most recent being the Alliance for eTrade Development I and II between 14 leading companies and USAID to enable small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) e-commerce in developing nations. She also serves as adjunct professor at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. Earlier in her career, she was a trade economist at the Inter-American Development Bank. Suominen is the author and editor of over 100 papers and 10 peer-reviewed books. She holds a BA from the University of Arkansas, an MA from Boston University, an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, and a PhD from the University of California San Diego. Dr. Suominen is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Rodrigo Balbontín 1

Rodrigo Balbontín

The Asia Foundation

Rodrigo Balbontín works as an Associate Director of Digital Technology, Policy, and Innovation Programs at The Asia Foundation. In this role, he is responsible for foundation's engagement in innovation policy issues, with a particular focus on the promotion of initiatives and practices to overcome the middle-income trap, such as institutional frameworks for innovation, digital trade, the Future of Work, and the adoption of emerging technologies. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Chile and a master’s degree in Science and Technology Policy from the University of Sussex. Before joining The Asia Foundation, Rodrigo worked as a Consultant at the Finance, Competitiveness, and Innovation Global Practice at the World Bank, researching innovation policies for SME support, and developing methodologies to standardize Science, Technology and Innovation policies (STI). As a consultant, he also served at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Ministry of Finance of Peru, and the Foundation for Agricultural Innovation in Chile. He earlier served at the Directorate of Budget at the Ministry of Finance of Chile, where he was involved in the design of the Chilean National Innovation System reform, and as an intern at the Science and Technology Policy Division at OECD.

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