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ASEAN revs up IoT revolution

Southeast Asia, once known as the world’s low-cost manufacturing workshop, has begun a wholesale transformation of its industries for higher valued goods and services.

To catch the better part of the global train powered by the so-called “fourth industrial revolution,” upper-tier economies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have started incorporating automation and digitalization into their industrial value chains with strong support in policies and incentives.

As Korea is relatively well poised in Asia for the new economic paradigm, cooperating with ASEAN could unlock both sides’ potential for synergy, according to the ASEAN-Korea Center Secretary-General Kim Young-sun.

“The ASEAN Master Plan 2020 aims to propel the region toward a secure and sustainable digital economy,” he said at an investment promotional seminar in Seoul on May 25.

“The ASEAN Blueprint 2025 also recognizes information communications technology sectors as key drivers of the regional bloc’s economic and social transformation. The ASEAN ICT Master Plan envisions building a digital community of the 10 member states equipped with the latest infrastructure, technologies, digital skills, applications and services.”

Noting that the new administration of South Korean President Moon Jae-in has vowed to double the national budget for scientific research by 2020, with an emphasis on preparing for the upcoming changes, Kim urged further enhancing the complementary partnership between ASEAN and Korea.

“Korea’s industrial success can provide invaluable lessons to ASEAN as it aspires to become a digital economy,” the former Korean ambassador to Indonesia (2011-14) told The Korea Herald.

While pointing out the different stages of economic development across ASEAN, he said some economies of the association have started gearing up for the “Industry 4.0” -- based on automation and digitalization -- to prevent investment from outflowing to China, which has plowed gargantuan capital and talent into value-added industries in recent years.

According to the Korea Association for ICT Promotion (KAIT), the 5th-generation wireless mobile networks, Internet of Things, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence in ICT infrastructures are the next driving forces of the world economy. To strengthen global competitiveness, ASEAN member states should collaborate and invest more in innovative technologies to bridge their internal and external digital divides, it added.

The event at COEX in Seoul brought together 44 government officials and 23 companies from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand that specialize in telecommunications, smart city development, Internet of Things and electronic commerce. They shared the latest information on business opportunities and harnessed networks with Korean enterprises.

The conference was jointly organized by the AKC -- an intergovernmental organization established in 2009 to promote two-way exchanges in trade and investment, tourism, cultural and people-to-people relations -- and KAIT, and also attended by Malaysian Ambassador to Korea Rohana Ramli.

The ASEAN delegation took part in the World IT Show, the largest exhibition of its kind in Korea, and visited industrial sites including LG CNS Data Center, Samsung D’light and LH Smartium. The AKC and KAIT signed a memorandum of understanding for officiating the Global ICT Partnership Program.

The AKC has hosted a series of trade and investment seminars and missions related to the Industry 4.0, encompassing the electronic commerce in Brunei, service robots in Singapore, smart city development in Indonesia, smart manufacturing in Malaysia, software and information technology in Thailand and the ICT seminar in Seoul.

On the schedule for the rest of this year is an IoT trade facilitation workshop in Thailand, a capacity-building workshop on cross-border e-commerce for the Greater Mekong subregion and investment mission to Vietnam for industrial robots.

By Joel Lee (joel@heraldcorp.com)
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