US-ABC Holds Artificial Intelligence Session of ASEAN-US Digital Policy Consultative Forum

On July 6, 2023, the US-ASEAN Business Council hosted its annual “ASEAN-US Digital Policy Consultative Forum” (DPCF) event to discuss various aspects of Artificial Intelligence and related policies to encourage the growth of AI ecosystem for digital economic growth in the region. The event was attended by more than 150 participants from the private sector and government agencies in ICT, Science and Technology, and Industry and Economy across the region.

Emerging out of the COVID-19 pandemic, ASEAN Member States (AMS) have been looking to revitalize and reenergize the economy, exploring opportunities to grow and develop its digital economy. Following up on the Council’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) Policy Retreat in 2021, the Council and its members recognized the importance of employing AI-based technologies to drive new forms of innovation led economic growth while ensuring AI is used and applied responsibly and ethically. In this context, the USABC and its members organized this DPCF with a focus on artificial intelligence, including two informative panel sessions to exchange insights on developing national AI strategies, roadmaps, and AI framework.

The event was officially opened by Chu Minh Hoan, Deputy General Director of the Vietnam National Institute of Software and Digital Content Industry of the Ministry of Information and Communications and Marc Mealy, Chief Policy Officer & Senior Vice President for Policy for the Council.

“While Generative AI has raised discourses around the impact of AI on society, it only represents a subset of the field of AI technology which has already been integrated into many industries across our economies We have seen AI maximizing productivity and efficiency in business operations. Or AI in automation in industrial manufacturing or agriculture. The various applications of AI across industries represent the potential to add $1 trillion to Southeast Asia’s GDP, or up to 18 percent, by 2030”, said Marc Mealy.

The first panel, titled “Developing the National AI Strategy and Roadmap,” began with presentations from Clara Koh, Head of Public Policy for Singapore, Malaysia, and ASEAN at Meta, and Austin Menyasz, Head of Government Affairs, Southeast Asia for SAP. The presentations were followed by discussion with government panelists from the Philippines and Thailand. Karl Lyndon B. Pacolor, Division Chief of the Innovation and Collaboration Division of the Philippines Department of Trade and Industry and Dr. Chai Wutitiwatchai, Executive Director of the National Electronics and Computer Technology Center in Thailand were joined by industry speakers Austin Menyasz and Dr. Jared Ragland, Senior Director for Policy, APAC, at BSA | The Software Alliance. The panel was moderated by Marcus Ng, Director of Economic Strategy at Access Partnership and focused on the importance of AI to economic growth, strategy for developing AI industry, and ASEAN AI priorities. 

“To enable AI development and harness its potential for society and the economy, we need to democratize access to resources that contribute to the creation of a more open AI research community which has benefits for safety, transparency and public trust in AI. Secondly, we also need to prioritize building international consensus on AI with like-minded countries, which includes prioritizing technical interoperability and creating consistent and easy to navigate regulatory approaches. Lastly, we should empower everyone in the community and society to engage in the topic of AI governance. As the adoption of AI depends in large part on people’s trust in this technology, users need to feel involved with the change that is happening all around them and have confidence in the institutions and leaders guiding the development of AI in the right way”, said Clara Koh.

In the second panel, titled “Developing an AI Framework,” government panelists from the United States and Singapore discussed principles for building an AI policy framework as well as regional best practices. Government panelists Denise Wong, Assistant Chief Executive of Data Innovation & Protection at Infocomm Media Development Authority and Reva Schwartz, Research Scientist and Principal Investigator for AI Bias at the National Institute of Standards and Technology were joined by Yves Gonzalez, Government Affairs and Public Policy, Southeast Asia at Google; Dr. Arianne T. Jimenez, Head of Privacy and Data Policy, Engagement for APAC at Meta; and Eunice Lim, Director Corporate Affairs for APJ at Workday. The discussion was moderated by Mario Masaya, Senior Director for Digital Policy at the Council.

The event closed with remarks from Steve Lang, Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Information and Communications Policy in the Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy of the U.S. Department of State.First held in May 2018, alongside the TELSOM-ATRC Joint Working Group meeting in Malaysia, DPCF is the flagship platform by the US-ASEAN Business Council (USABC) to facilitate in-depth public-private dialogue on priority digital economy issues through a series of roundtable discussions. This DPCF event was made possible with the support of Meta, SAP, Workday, Google, and Access Partnership. Other US-ASEAN Business Council member that participated include Access Partnership, and non-member included BSA | The Software Alliance.


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About US-ASEAN Business Council

Since 1984, the US-ASEAN Business Council has been the premier advocacy organization for U.S. corporations operating within the dynamic Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Worldwide, the Council's membership of nearly 170 companies generates almost US$7 trillion in revenue and employs more than 14.5 million people.  Today our members include the largest U.S. companies conducting business in ASEAN and range from newcomers to the region to companies that have been working in Southeast Asia for more than 100 years. The Council has nine offices around the globe, in Washington, DC; New York, NY; Bangkok, Thailand; Hanoi, Vietnam; Jakarta, Indonesia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Manila, Philippines; Singapore; and Yangon, Myanmar.


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