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) 

Download Agenda

Download Report

Latest Updates

Latest Updates​

Keep pace with the digital pulse of Southeast Asia!

Never miss an update or event!

Mouna Aouri

Programme Fellow

Mouna Aouri is an Institute Fellow at the Tech For Good Institute. As a social entrepreneur, impact investor, and engineer, her experience spans over two decades in the MENA region, South East Asia, and Japan. She is founder of Woomentum, a Singapore-based platform dedicated to supporting women entrepreneurs in APAC through skill development and access to growth capital through strategic collaborations with corporate entities, investors and government partners.

Dr Ming Tan

Founding Executive Director

Dr Ming Tan is founding Executive Director for the Tech for Good Institute, a non-profit founded to catalyse research and collaboration on social, economic and policy trends accelerated by the digital economy in Southeast Asia. She is concurrently a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Governance and Sustainability at the National University of Singapore and Advisor to the Founder of the COMO Group, a Singaporean portfolio of lifestyle companies operating in 15 countries worldwide.  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 and the founding Executive Director of COMO Foundation, a grantmaker focused on gender equity that has served over 47 million women and girls since 2003.


As a company director, she lends brand and strategic guidance to several companies within the COMO Group. Ming also serves as a Council Member of the Council for Board Diversity, on the boards of COMO Foundation and Singapore Network Information Centre (SGNIC), and on the Digital and Technology Advisory Panel for Esplanade–Theatres on the Bay, Singapore’s national performing arts centre.


In the non-profit, educational and government spheres, Ming is a director of COMO Foundation and Singapore Network Information Centre (SGNIC) and chairs the Asia Advisory board for Swiss hospitality business and management school EHL. She also serves on  the Council for Board Diversity and the Digital and Technology Advisory Panel for Esplanade–Theatres on the Bay, Singapore’s national performing arts centre.


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.