HANOI, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- The 2018 World Economic Forum on ASEAN concluded here on Thursday, reaching consensus on tapping the fourth industrial revolution and accelerating digital growth, among other issues.
During the three-day meeting themed "ASEAN 4.0: Entrepreneurship and the Fourth Industrial Revolution," over 1,100 participants, including prime ministers of Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Vietnam, the Indonesian president and the Myanmar state counsellor, focused their discussions on making full use of the revolution and coping with its potential negative impact, spurring economic growth through education, entrepreneurship and infrastructure investment.
Up to 60 official sessions were held, and pledges were made on Digital ASEAN, Partnerships against Malaria, the Grow Asia Forum, and many new initiatives.
Digital ASEAN, one of the World Economic Forum's flagship initiatives in Southeast Asia, held two workshops during the meeting, gathering 90 government ministers, business leaders and policy-makers to set the goals for the year ahead.
The initiative has five task forces which focus on harmonizing data policy and governance rules in ASEAN; upgrading broadband access, quality and speed; developing digital skills; improving cooperation for cybersecurity; and building a pan-regional e-payments ecosystem.
Each task force now has a clear roadmap of goals to be achieved in the coming 12 months.
The Vietnamese government built strong momentum for a "Flat ASEAN" by calling for abolition of international roaming charges imposed on ASEAN citizens when travelling within the region, and establishment of a regional information and communications technology university to train a skilled workforce for the fourth industrial revolution, as well as a cybersecurity information sharing and analysis center to ensure that all citizens and systems can be safely connected on the internet.
Among the first to make a digital skills pledge, Google announced its commitment to train 3 million workers of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across all 10 ASEAN countries in digital skills by 2020.
Many participants agreed that ASEAN should collaborate further to capitalize on the gains of rapid technological change and digital growth by achieving the free movement of talent, data, capital and education, across the borders of its 10 members.
They also agreed that inclusive internet access, education and cross-border collaboration are needed to propel Asia's digital market into the global economy.
Once internet penetration is achieved across the region, the next step is for owners of SMEs to learn how to move their business from offline to online.
Besides digital technology-related initiatives, the three-day meeting produced many other notable outcomes.
Young Global Leaders in ASEAN expressed a common goal of enhancing digital citizenship and online safety among children in the region.
They decided to work together on a strategic global movement to empower 8-12-year olds with comprehensive digital citizenship skills from the start of their digital lives and help them become informed and discerning users of digital media and technology.
Meanwhile, over 170 senior leaders and decision-makers in the agriculture industry gathered at the Grow Asia Forum 2018 and agreed on strategies for transforming agriculture and food systems in the region anchored on public-private policy dialogue and fourth industrial revolution technologies.
On Thursday, the Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance pledged support for two new initiatives to accelerate the elimination of malaria and improve health outcomes in the Asia-Pacific.
On Wednesday, leaders of Mekong countries unanimously reiterated a vision of the vital waterway or economic "bloodline" and one that prioritizes complementarity over competition. The leaders of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar affirmed their commitment to shared prosperity and peace.