ECONOMIC ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) inaugurated negotiations on the Digital Economic Framework Agreement (DEFA) that is expected to result in a gain of US$2 trillion for ASEAN in 2030.

“By implementing DEFA, the ASEAN will be able to shoot up its potential value of digital economy to US$2 trillion in 2030,” Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto remarked at the 23rd ASEAN Economic Community (AECC) Meeting in Jakarta on Sunday (9/03), 2023.

The DEFA constitutes a cooperation framework that will provide Southeast Asian nations with a comprehensive road map, which will be instrumental in empowering the business sector and related stakeholders in the region.

During the 23rd AECC Meeting, hosted by Indonesia, as the 2023 chair of ASEAN, economic ministers of the bloc agreed to start negotiating the DEFA in November this year, with the conclusion expected to be reached in 2025.

The finalization and implementation of the agreement is expected to encourage ASEAN countries to work hand in hand to accelerate trade growth of the region, create a suitable digital economic ecosystem, and increase the participation of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs)

Minister Hartarto, as chair of the 23rd AECC Meeting, expressed belief that the DEFA will help Indonesia and other ASEAN countries to advance their MSMEs.

“Several regulations are currently being formulated to support MSMEs,” he remarked.

Furthermore, the minister noted that Indonesia describes DEFA as a progress in the efforts to integrate the region’s digital economy. He then expressed hope that the agreement would also help Southeast Asia create more innovations, draw investment, and boost its productivity.

Earlier, Minister Hartarto had cited the 2022 data, which showed that Indonesia had cornered as much as 40 percent of the ASEAN’s digital economy market. Meanwhile, the total value of ASEAN’s gross domestic product was recorded at US$3.6 trillion in the same year.

Hence, to this end, the minister is optimistic that the DEFA would further advance the digital economy of Indonesia and the region as a whole.

Indonesia is scheduled to hold the 43rd ASEAN Summit on September 5-7 in Jakarta, succeeding the 42nd edition of the summit that took place in May in Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara Province. [antaranews]