Is Economic Integration ASEAN’s only Raison D’etre?

The Tech for Good Institute participated in the 38th ASEAN Roundtable, organised by Yusof Ishak Institute. Themed “ASEAN in a Fragmented Global Order”, the event ran on 3 October 2023 at the Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel. The aim of this year’s Roundtable is to examine ASEAN’s central role as the primary forum for dialogue and cooperation in Southeast Asia and its relevance in shaping the future of the region.

The Roundtable was supported by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.
Left to right: Dr Sanchita Basu Das, Dr Jayant Menon, Dr Julia Tijaja and Dr Ming Tan
(Credit: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)


Moderator and panellists:

  • Dr Jayant Menon, Senior Fellow, Regional Economic Studies Programme, ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute
  • Dr Sanchita Basu Das, Economist, Asian Development Bank
  • Dr Julia Tijaja, Associate Senior Fellow, ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute
  • Dr Ming Tan, Founding Executive Director, Tech for Good Institute

The roundtable discussion focused on the impact of economic fragmentation and assessed how the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) can build resilience and find new opportunities to advance the grouping’s integration and growth. 


Key takeaways from speakers:

Dr Sanchita Basu Das, Economist at the Asian Development Bank, underscored the importance of improving ASEAN’s competitiveness not only to increase trade and investment in the region but also to enhance the “plus” arrangements – ranging from the harmonisation of standards to the advancement of domestic reforms. She also highlighted the need to focus on people-centric deliverables, sustainable and green economy, as well as to strengthen policies such as in the area of supply chains.

Dr Julia Tijaja, ISEAS Associate Senior Fellow, highlighted that the AEC is at a crossroads. While noting good achievements of the AEC, including new frameworks in place and positive recovery from the pandemic, she also underlined institutional shortcomings, such as gaps in the implementation of ASEAN’s economic blueprints and the lack of institutional readiness to deal with cross-cutting issues. To enhance cross-sectoral cooperation, she underscored the importance of putting in place processes to deal with emerging challenges, being proactive in shaping rules and standards, and strengthening ASEAN as an institution.

Dr Ming Tan, Founding Executive Director of Tech for Good Institute, highlighted digitalisation as the driver of economic growth but emphasised that it is not an end in itself. Although there was a high rate of digital adoption and penetration, she believed there was a need for ASEAN to be more connected and digitally interoperable. This would enhance ASEAN’s attractiveness as a market and increase its voice in shaping the digital landscape. With such rapid developments, human capital requirements, such as cybersecurity expertise, will be of utmost importance going ahead.

To read more about the key takeaways from the other roundtable discussions, click here.

This article is contributed by ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute (ISEAS) 

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Dr Ming Tan

Founding Executive Director

Dr Ming Tan is founding Executive Director for the Tech for Good Institute. She is concurrently a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Governance and Sustainability at the National University of Singapore. Her research interests lie at the intersection of technology, business and society, including sustainability and innovation.


Ming was previously Managing Director of IPOS International, part of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, which supports Singapore’s future growth as a global innovation hub for intellectual property creation, commercialisation and management.


Prior to joining the public sector, she was Head of Stewardship of the COMO Group, a Singaporean portfolio of lifestyle companies operating in 14 countries worldwide. Her portfolio covered sustainability, brand and data privacy. She was concurrently the founding Executive Director of COMO Foundation, the private philanthropy of the owner of the COMO Group.


As a company director, she lends brand and strategic guidance to SuperNature Pte Ltd, COMO Hotels and Resorts (Asia) Pte Ltd, COMO Club Pte Ltd, and Mogems Pte Ltd. In the not-for-profit space, Ming is an Advisor to Singapore Totalisator Board and serves on the boards of Esplanade–Theatres on the Bay, Singapore’s national performing arts centre, St. Joseph’s Institution International and COMO Foundation.


As part of her commitment to holistic education and the arts, she also sits on the Advisory Panel of the Centre for the Arts of the National University of Singapore.


Ming was educated in Singapore, the United States, and England. She obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stanford University and her doctorate from Oxford.