Economic growth across the Southeast Asia (SEA) region is expected moderate to 4.5 percent in 2019, from 5.1 percent in 2018 - Photo by ASEAN Secretariat Office

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories – Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has shown that it remains an investment destination of choice for the investors. In 2017, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows in the region reached an all-time high of US$137 billion, up by 12 percent from 2016.

Based on the latest report ASEAN Investment Report 2018 released on Nov. 12, the robust inflows also increased ASEAN’s share of global FDI to developing economies. Wholesale and retail trade emerged as the largest industry recipient, overtaking finance and manufacturing sectors, which are traditionally the major FDI recipients.

There is also growing interest in health care, research and development activities and e-commerce, including financial technology. Internet transactions, estimated to be worth $50 billion in 2017, may potentially reach $200 billion by 2025.

Its reported, the digital revolution is disrupting and transforming industries and businesses as well as the way goods and services are delivered. The digital economy has also generated opportunities to accelerate development by increasing business efficiency and productivity, widening access to existing or new markets, and facilitating participation in the global value chains.

ASEAN countries are actively promoting investment in the digital economy, including through further cooperation on digital connectivity. However, policy and institutional challenges remain.

On Monday (13/11), ASEAN member countries signed an agreement on e-commerce to support the digital economy in the region. Minister of Trade Enggartiasto Lukita said the agreement was to support the development of the digital economy by creating a conducive environment for e-commerce growth.

Indirectly, the minister added, the cooperation framework builds greater digital connectivity in the ASEAN region. Previously, ASEAN member countries agreed on a trade cooperation framework on e-commerce system to support the development of the digital economy.

“Indonesia has joined in signing trade cooperation on e-commerce to support the development of digital economy and trade in ASEAN countries,” said Enggartiasto.

The ASEAN agreement on electronic commerce was signed by other ASEAN economic ministers. The signing was a series of the 33rd ASEAN Summit which took place from Nov. 11 to 15, 2018.