The government remains committed to the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) and believes investment value in the corridor will reach at least THB300 billion this year as expected.
According to the Secretary-General to the EEC Office, private investment is increasing this year, driven by global economic recovery and rising global trade. He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected the investments which were lower last year as investors were hesitant. Investors are now expected to ramp up investments this year, he said.
Last year, actual investment in the EEC totalled only THB96 billion, making up 46% of total investment applications filed through the Board of Investment (BoI). The EEC is part of the government’s strategy to move Thailand towards a high-tech economy.
The area spans a combined 30,000 rai plot of land in the provinces of Chon Buri, Rayong and Chachoengsao to accommodate investments in targeted industries, focusing largely on advanced technology.
The EEC will host 12 target S-curve industries: cars, smart electronics, medical and wellness tourism, agriculture and biotechnology, food, robotics for industry, logistics and aviation, biofuels and biochemicals, digital, medical services, defence, and education development.
The government is offering several privileges for investments in the EEC, including standard tax holidays for five to 10 years depending on investment categories, corporate income tax exemption for an additional two years, and a 50% corporate tax reduction for three years for investment projects related to human resource development.
The EEC attracted investment applications for 117 projects in the first quarter with a combined value of 64.4 billion baht, 39% higher than the total value of the 117 projects filed in the same period of 2020.
5G propelling investment
A large number of investments relating to 5G technology are scheduled for 2021 and include both infrastructure projects and production technology upgrades by manufacturers in the EEC.
Mobile phone operators and related industries are in the process of investing in the infrastructure required for 5G technology in EEC while investments in a smart city in Ban Chang in Rayong is about to be completed as well. Meanwhile, investments in infrastructure projects for Pattaya Smart City are scheduled to begin this year.
Last year, Pattaya announced a five-year roadmap for its transformation into a “smart city” to become a hub of economic, investment and tourism activity. The strategy is designed to create new opportunities for Pattaya residents, improve its environment, and serve its multicultural community.
The city’s authorities conducted public hearings on the scheme, which is expected to boost the economy in post-Covid-19, to improve digital information and geoinformatics of the plan between 2021 and 2025.
The digital transformation will help improve government services, reduce inequality in education, and increase investment opportunities. The digital system will be applied to the transportation, tourism, and medical industry, as well as town planning.
At both Ban Chang and Pattaya smart cities, big data will be used to improve people’s quality of life, including a 3D system to boost people’s incomes, a closed-circuit TV system to ensure public security, and various other innovations to facilitate and enhance local life.
The government will also support factories in EEC to upgrade manufacturing via 5G technology.
The EEC Office is also focusing on electrical vehicle (EV) manufacturing as EV projects in EEC are scheduled to see investments this year and in 2022. The government will support infrastructure to boost EVs and three cores of EV development: charging stations, significant parts of motor and battery and software. The manufacturing of EVs in Thailand can happen faster than the government’s plan, which aims for domestic production of EVs to account for 30% of car manufacturing by 2030.
The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Malaysia’s lead digital economy agency, is ramping up its efforts in enabling a digital learning landscape for youth through strategic collaborations with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Yayasan Peneraju Pendidikan Bumiputera.
With the aim to fortify digital talent amid the COVID-19 recovery, both collaborations were secured via MDEC #mydigitalmaker Movement, a joint public-private-academia partnership launched in August 2016. The initiative, which is part of the agency’s #SayaDigital agenda, has benefited more than 2.2 million children through the integration of computational thinking into the national school curriculum and co-curricular activities organised by MDEC and its ecosystem partners.
The Chief Digital Skills and Jobs Officer at MDEC stated that the fast-changing talent market brings many new opportunities for young people. Strong fundamental and transferable skills fostered from their early years will be key in nurturing them to become an agile and digitally competent workforce.
This strategic collaboration with UNICEF and Yayasan Peneraju marks MDEC’s continuous effort in ensuring that Malaysia continues to produce a pool of digitally innovative and creative talents in line with the goals of the Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint (MyDIGITAL), she said.
Through the collaboration, MDEC and UNICEF aim to create opportunities and better career outcomes for marginalised young people by bringing them together with industry leaders and experts on the same platform for career guidance and mentorships.
The partnership entails on-the-job training and industrial experience opportunities for young people via apprenticeships as well as skill-building opportunities.
Strategic partnerships such as this will accelerate the delivery of inclusive opportunities in education, employment and entrepreneurship. It is in our interest to build the skills of young people so that no one is left behind, according to the UNICEF Representative to Malaysia and Special Representative to Brunei Darussalam.
Through the partnership, both parties will be focusing on joint and independent programmes that are academic and career-oriented developed by MDEC and UNICEF. The programmes include:
- #MyDigitalMaker Fair
- Premier Digital Tech Institutions
- Future Skills for All (FS4A) programme
- KitaConnect Skills-Building Workshops
- MDEC + UNICEF Youth Employability Readiness programme
Focusing on developing a forward-looking digital landscape for Bumiputera’s youth, MDEC has partnered with Yayasan Peneraju to provide a knowledge-enhancing programme, Yayasan Peneraju High Impact Programme – Competition (Technology), for school students nationwide via a virtual platform.
Fully funded by Yayasan Peneraju, the series of online sessions began in early 2021 and has been benefiting more than 1,000 young Bumiputera students, aged 13 to 17 years old, through learning and exploring digital technology skill sets via online competitions.
The strategic cooperation with MDEC is an important factor in responding to the challenge of nurturing human capital, especially the Bumiputera talent, to the highest potential in deepening technological expertise. As an agency under the Prime Minister’s Department, the organisation’s mandate is to increase the quality of professional Bumiputera talents in the high impact sectors.
“We must ensure that our beneficiaries are also equipped with skills and technological knowledge so that they can excel in their career and life,” said the CEO of Yayasan Peneraju.
Industry experts and financial-technology service providers called for the upgrade of homegrown financial-technology capabilities to further elevate the financial sector and boost the digitalisation of other industry sectors.
The insurance industry is likely to be a forerunner in terms of digital transformation. The operation efficiency and sophistication level of service in the insurance sector should be further enhanced despite initial progress in the realm, as digitalisation is becoming a prerequisite for all insurance service providers. There is also a basic demand to leverage financial-technology measures to counter potential cybersecurity risks, as large amounts of data are leveraged for daily operations and business decisions.
The digitalisation of financial services would help resolve financial imbalances and further serve underfinanced groups. The digitalisation of financial services offers tailor-made solutions for small and micro businesses and helps mitigate risks for commercial lenders.
Fintech solutions should focus more on small and micro businesses at the grassroots level. Fintech service players serve a positive role to help avoid the mismatch of financial resources, and they should stick to serving the grassroots financial and consumption market in the long run.
– Zhang Jun, dean of the Fudan University School of Economics
Technologies have already helped expand wealth management products’ customer base and enhanced its risk-control schemes. China’s asset management industry was valued at 12.1 trillion yuan (US$1.89 trillion) in 2020, but the sector still lags behind in terms of predictive algorithms to mitigate risks. Further efforts in smart data technologies are needed to meet risk control and regulatory compliance requirements.
Moreover, China plans to build pioneering fintech hubs nationwide, focusing on the research and development of blockchain technology and digital currency to boost investment in financial infrastructure. Beijing ranks top among eight cities around the world, thanks to its huge consumer market, advanced technology application and fast development of the fintech ecosystem. Other cities that China aims to develop as global fintech hubs are Shanghai, Shenzhen in Guangdong province, and Hangzhou in Zhejiang province.
The People’s Bank of China (PBOC), China’s central bank, published a three-year fintech development plan. So far, some results have been achieved and major projects are proceeding as scheduled. Issuing the central bank digital currency was included in that blueprint, which also involves developing fintech services based on blockchain, big data, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and financial security technology. The three-year plan aims to promote China’s fintech industry to an international leading level.
The basic technology framework of the digital currency designed by the central bank has almost been completed, with sophisticated top-level design, and trials are ongoing in some application scenarios. The fast progress will give the PBOC a leading position among its global peers in officially launching a digital currency. Regulations on fintech technology development will focus on protecting personal privacy, expanding fintech services to benefit more individuals, and streamlining regulations.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, China has urged a digital transformation in the financial industry in response to the increasing uncertainty from the COVID-19 pandemic. The volatility has also created unprecedented opportunities for digitalisation across the world, and the financial industry continues to explore openings to embrace technology and uncover new areas of growth.
Chinese fintech strategies combined with current digital transformation trends will likely produce the following footprints:
- Fintech industries will be more online, open, and intelligent: Industries will convert more traditional services from offline to online and build an omnichannel strategy by tapping into emerging channels. They will apply artificial intelligence (AI) applications to online businesses with matching needs from both retail and corporate customers. They will create more data streams and use cases to strengthen client relations.
- New technologies and applications will be introduced to improve operational efficiency with emphasis on data factors: Industries will focus on the introduction of smart operations, smart risk management, and smart customer relationship management (CRM) with the integration of low-code SaaS applications. They deploy blockchain applications to build and expand a trusted financial service environment, piloting applications such as traceability, authentic right, trusted execution environment, and multi-stakeholder transactions.
The Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) stated that Taiwan will engage in cooperation and exchanges with the Baltic states in the areas of quantum technology and biotechnology. The two countries are expected to lead to future bilateral academic and research exchanges. Both countries will discuss technology development, biomedicine, semiconductors and technology parks.
The natios have concluded that the plans for future cooperation between Taiwan and the Baltic states – Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia – will focus on academic and research exchanges in the quantum technology and biotech areas.
This direction was chosen after considering the Baltic states’ position as members of the European Union, with varying levels of technological development and expertise, and Taiwan’s current policy on science and technology research. The ministry added the delegation, which includes the parliamentary representatives Matas Maldeikis of Lithuania, Janis Vucans of Latvia and Juri Jaanson of Estonia showed positive interest in supporting bilateral cooperation and exchanges in the field of technology.
Taiwan believes that quantum technology is coming and the country is investing to become a leader. Taiwan will invest NT$ 8 billion – about US$ 282 million – in the development of quantum technology in the coming five years with a view to becoming a tech hub that boasts more than semiconductor manufacturing prowess.
The initiative is much broader than just building a quantum computer, according to the story. The country will invest in quantum devices, quantum computers, quantum algorithms and quantum communication technologies. The new technologies will be employed to develop applications for areas spanning cybersecurity, finance, national defence and more. Taiwan must invest in quantum research before it can secure a place in the competitive world of advanced technologies.
Meanwhile, Taiwan’s biomedical industry has grown from strength to strength in recent years as a result of farsighted government policymaking, spotlighting her administration’s commitment to developing high-growth sectors of the economy.
Biomedical technology has been a top priority in Taiwan’s national development strategy. Over the past few years, the country has conducted over 300 clinical trials, 80% of which involved multinational firms, while local biomedical industry revenues grew 8.7% in 2019, with total investment exceeding NT$55.1 billion (US$1.84 billion).
Taiwan’s biomedical industry includes three major sectors: applied biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices. Research institutes have played an important role in the development of Taiwan’s economy, and today no less than nine institutes are involved in the development of Biomedical Innovations in the country’s biomedical industry.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, MOST announced that 20 tech startup companies would showcase Taiwan’s Biotech capabilities to the world connect with the global ecosystem, resources and industries in the forum organised by Taiwan Tech Arena (TTA). There are 20 TTA startup teams are selected by industrial experts and focused on global bio-industrial market potential startups.
Taiwan has demonstrated how to democratically tackle the COVID-19 threatening and how to be a truly global partner by utilising technologies. Taiwan’s efforts and commitments have drawn international attention and the relationship between Taiwan and the U.S. has become stronger than ever before in the past year. The U.S. is leading the trends of advanced science and technology development and has a vivid startup ecosystem, while Taiwan has renowned semiconductor and ICT industries and long supported technology startups.
By working together, Taiwan can speed up the transition from scientific findings into practical technology applications and create a win-win situation and achieve future possible collaborations in the US. The companies presented disruptive biotech innovations such as vocal implant systems, AI Video-based telemedicine solutions and detection of respiratory function with ultrasound technology.
A new agenda to keep Victoria at the forefront of innovation, drive the creation of new industries and support jobs for future generations has been unveiled by the Government. The Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy recently launched the Innovation Statement detailing the plans and investments to propel the state forward.
The ambitious plan builds on existing commitments with a new blueprint to turbocharge Victoria’s startup ecosystem, grow business and innovation precincts, develop homegrown talent, and commercialise world-leading research – keeping Victoria at the cutting edge.
Front and centre of the agenda is the landmark AU$ 2 billion Breakthrough Victoria Fund, which will bridge the gap between discovery and commercialisation, mobilise innovation in key areas such as health and life sciences, agri-food, advanced manufacturing, clean economy and digital technologies.
Health and medical research is another focus with investments totalling $590 million committed in the past year alone, including up to $400 million for a new Australian Institute of Infectious Disease to lead the fight against future pandemics, and an additional $50 million to spearhead local manufacturing of mRNA vaccines.
The Victoria Government is fostering the big ideas of entrepreneurs and supporting home-grown start-ups to scale up while also building a robust investor landscape to help more Victorian innovators take their ideas global.
The state’s start-up agency, LaunchVic, is leading the way with programs such as the $10 million Alice Anderson Fund helping female founders access early-stage funding, and the $60.5 million Victorian Startup Capital Fund injecting more money into local start-ups.
The Government’s significant investment is building Victoria’s innovation capabilities, increasing competitiveness and attracting national and international investors. Priority initiatives like the $64 million Digital Jobs program are addressing the digital skills shortage by training mid-career Victorians for in-demand digital roles, while the $550 million Connecting Victoria program is helping businesses take advantage of digital opportunities with reliable, better value broadband across the state.
The Innovation Statement showcases Victoria’s impressive history of class-leading innovations and modern inventions making their mark around the world and celebrates and elevates stories from across the Victorian innovation community.
The Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy stated that Victoria is ahead of the curve and there’s no slowing down, which is why the nation must support its innovation ecosystem and continue to make game-changing advancements in science, health and medicine, and technology. The new innovation agenda is a commitment to ensure the next generation of Victorians have all they need for the jobs of tomorrow, she added.
Digital technology and innovation drive economic growth, productivity and competitiveness. The Victorian Government is committed to positioning Victoria as the number one destination for digital technology companies and start-ups in the Asia-Pacific.
The results of the latest survey of Victoria’s information and communications technology (ICT) industry indicate continued growth and a positive outlook with:
- 19,941 businesses
- 139,100 employees
- annual revenue of $38.4 billion (including $2.4 billion in international revenue).
More broadly, it has been estimated that in 2020, Victoria’s digital economy could be worth $50.8 billion.
Victorian Government support
The Victorian Government is creating a supportive local environment where innovation can thrive with programs, initiatives and events being rolled out across metropolitan and regional Victoria. The AU$ 45 million Connecting Regional Communities Program is addressing digital infrastructure, enhanced broadband, mobile blackspots and digital agriculture, and the $18 million Regional Rail Connectivity Project is improving connectivity on five major regional rail lines.
The Victorian Government has established LaunchVic, an independent agency responsible for leading the development of a globally-connected startup ecosystem by supporting startups and investors to sustainably grow and deliver economic and cultural benefits for both Victoria and Australia.
China’s top industry regulator unveiled a five-year plan to accelerate the integration of digital and real economies amid a broader push to lay down a policy framework for the nation’s industrial development until 2025.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said accelerating the deep integration of information technologies in all industrial chains is of great significance to promote industrial digitisation and digital industrialisation in the new era. According to the five-year plan, the ministry will adopt five special initiatives, including promoting manufacturing digital transformation and industrial internet platforms, to advance industrial upgrade.
The five-year plan put forward both quantitative and qualitative objectives. For instance, by 2025, the nation aims to grow the penetration rate of industrial internet platforms to 45% and the popularisation rate of digital research, development and design tools to 85%.
– Xie Shaofeng, Director, Information Technology, Development Department, MIIT
The ministry said the integrative development of”5G plus industrial internet” is on a fast track in China. At this time, more than 100 influential industrial internet platforms have also been built. In addition, more than 1,800 5G plus industrial internet projects are under construction in China, covering 10 important industries including mining, coal and electricity.
The intensified efforts to accelerate the development of the industrial internet will greatly improve production efficiency. Over the long term, it will boost the competitiveness of China’s manufacturing on the global stage.
The MIIT also unveiled a five-year plan to cultivate the nation’s big data industry. According to the plan, by 2025, the estimated scale of China’s big data industry will exceed 3 trillion yuan ($471 billion), up from more than 1 trillion yuan in 2020, and the average compound annual growth rate will be maintained at about 25%.
China’s big data industry has grown quickly over the past five years, with the average compound annual growth rate exceeding 30%. The next five years will be an important period to build China into a manufacturing and digital powerhouse, which thus means new and higher requirements for the development of the big data industry.
China’s data will account for 27.8% of the world’s total, ranking it first worldwide. In the era of the industrial digital economy, a large quantity of industrial data will be connected to the internet, which will further drive the development of the big data industry.
Moreover, China will accelerate the construction of a digital government to improve administrative services. Accordingly, the country should create a national digital government network to improve regional and interagency information sharing and ensure its digital public services cover more sectors and become more accessible.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, China Association for Science and Technology (CAST) has provided continuous support to release the potential of digital innovation and foster new drivers of growth. CAST urged to enhance digital literacy of the general public to achieve inclusive development goals beneficial to all. CAST called on efforts to deepen international cooperation and build a global network on digital governance.
The nation is already a leader in the 4th generation of the industrial revolution. Digital transformation is of great importance for the survival and development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and special assistance will be provided for SMEs to enhance their intelligent manufacturing capacity. Experts from China and abroad discuss the endless frontier of digital technology and inclusive development as a solution to the digital divide.
China needs to be built into a highland for global digital technologies and a thriving digital economy. Only by filling the digital divide can people eliminate information asymmetry and obtain the best results. China must Take sci-tech measures to promote high-quality development of financial industries.
Through the InvoiceNow nationwide e-invoicing network, businesses can now reduce cost and processing times when they transact with the Housing & Development Board (HDB), JTC and Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA). Launched by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) in 2019, InvoiceNow is based on the international Peppol business standard, and invoices are transmitted over the Peppol document e-delivery network.
The network helps businesses improve efficiency, reduce cost, enjoy faster payment and stay green at the same time as well as allows businesses to transact internationally with other linked companies. InvoiceNow on Nationwide E-delivery Network complements the existing EDI connections to allow e-invoicing to businesses connected to the Peppol network. This allows more than 40,000 Singapore businesses that have joined the network to digitally transact with other Peppol-linked companies in Singapore and worldwide.
IMDA has been pioneering the development of digital utilities, such as InvoiceNow, to enable our businesses large and small to transact seamlessly in the digital economy. With the support from HDB, JTC and MPA, companies on this nationwide InvoiceNow network can now receive e-invoices from these agencies and benefit from going digital. I urge businesses that have not yet switched to e-invoicing to join InvoiceNow.
Regarding the involvement of banks in InvoiceNow, InvoiceNow is supported by the Association of Banks (ABS) in Singapore. Supporting banks are working on solutions that allow users to flip InvoiceNow invoices to payment directly cutting down on complexity and reducing business friction.
As part of efforts to drive digital transformation and help Singapore businesses seize opportunities in the digital economy, IMDA worked with HDB, JTC and MPA to enable the agencies to issue e-invoices for direct receipt into their business customers’ accounting systems through InvoiceNow. Collectively, HDB, JTC and MPA represent 70% of public sector invoicing, and every month the agencies’ 25,000 business customers receive more than 49,000 invoices.
E-invoicing enables businesses to digitalise the way they transact, reducing the amount of time and effort in re-keying the data into their own systems, saving up to $8 per invoice processed and enjoying faster processing times when sending their own e-invoices. This will also enable our businesses to reduce their carbon footprint.
In tandem with digital transformation efforts of the maritime industry, MPA partnered with IMDA to embark on InvoiceNow. This serves as an additional platform for their customers to receive invoices digitally via the Peppol network with greater efficiency. This will help more maritime companies accelerate the adoption of electronic business processes.
OpenGov Asia reported the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the National Research Foundation Singapore (NRF) are also investing close to S$70 million to support “cutting-edge” communications and connectivity research. Mr Heng noted that SGTraDex will onboard stakeholders along the supply chain, especially smaller firms, so they can be part of this digital backbone. SGTraDex will also enable new value-added services for supply chain participants and speed up the processing of customs clearance, trade financing, insurance, and other related activities, the Deputy Prime Minister said.
SGTraDex was conceptualised by the Alliance for Action (AfA) on Supply Chain Digitalisation which will be anchored through a public-private partnership. SGTraDex is a digital infrastructure that facilitates trusted and secure sharing of data between supply chain ecosystem partners. Globally, there is a macro shift in trade flows and supply chains both physically and digitally. There have been momentous inefficiencies in events, documentation and financial information flows across the supply chain.
SGTraDex aims to streamline information flows across a fragmented global supply chain ecosystem through a common data highway. With this digital transformation, companies will gain the momentum to build a stronger and robust supply chain ecosystem for international trade flows. New efficiencies and opportunities will be unlocked through this collaboration where ecosystem partners come together to achieve shared visibility of the end-to-end supply chain.
The Philippines’ central bank, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), has refreshed its six-year-old National Strategy for Financial Inclusion (NSFI) to make it more current and to reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and greater digitalisation of financial services. The BSP will launch an enhanced version of the current NSFI in January 2022. The Financial Inclusion Steering Committee (FISC), an interagency committee in charge of the NSFI and chaired by the BSP, agreed to alter and update the NSFI on November 9.
“The plan must evolve in tandem with the landscape,” BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno remarked. “This pushes the bank to reassess the initial strategic plan and ensure that the NSFI continues to be a flexible framework for promoting financial inclusion across the country.”
The National Survey on Financial Institutions (NSFI) was originally introduced in July 2015 and the most recent national survey on FI as an official report was in 2019. The BSP publishes quarterly FI data on its website, the most recent of which was in the fourth quarter of 2020. The objective of the NSFI is to promote and develop public-private collaboration and financial inclusion policies and programmes. The Financial Institutions Surveillance Commission (FISC) developed an inclusive financial system in 2015.
According to Diokno, there is still more work to be done to make formal financial services available to everybody, and the pandemic and rapid development of digital technology are bringing new opportunities as well as obstacles in the pursuit of financial inclusion.
The BSP said the new NSFI will encompass six years from 2022 to 2028, with strategies transformed into priority activities, key performance indicators, and targets. The bank emphasised that this is a shift from the present NSFI, which lays out the principles for achieving financial inclusion but does not include a timescale or goals.
To update the NSFI, the BSP and the Asian Development Bank are holding ongoing consultation workshops and actively requesting views from the banking and other sectors. According to Diokno, who spoke at the BSP’s recent “Financial Education Expo,” Filipinos’ financial behaviour has changed because of the pandemic.
“Some for the better (and) they are prioritising saving, availing health and life insurance, and preparing for retirement to provide better financial opportunities for themselves and their families during and beyond the pandemic,” he said. This was one of the updated information that the national FI survey aims to capture.
OpenGov Asia reported the issuance of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) on broadening the provision of internet service through satellite services is seen by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) as further promoting financial inclusion and digital finance in the country. The IRR, issued in September by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) under Department Circular No. 002, Series of 2021, aims to promote the development of an inclusive and vibrant satellite industry by liberalising access to satellite systems.
Increased access to satellite services is expected to hasten the rollout of internet connectivity for the country’s unserved, underserved, geographically isolated, and disadvantaged areas. With the issuance of the IRR, banks, fintech companies, and other financial sector entities will be guided even further in their exploration of ways to use satellite technology for their operations, particularly in expanding presence in underserved communities.
As financial transactions and services shift to online platforms, internet connectivity is recognised as a critical enabler of financial and economic inclusion. Banks and other financial service providers (FSPs) will be able to better serve rural areas with more access points, such as automated teller machines and cash agent services that rely on internet connectivity, as internet service is expanded.