Consumer sovereignty in the framework of social justice, economic equality and environmental balance, within and across borders

Unlocking the potential of the digital economy in India and Southeast Asia

Bangkok, 23 August 2018

Delivering his keynote speech at a conference entitled “Unlocking the potential of the digital economy in India and Southeast Asia”, jointly organised by CUTS International (www.cuts-international.org), the India-based international research and advocacy group and Thammasat University’s India Centre, Mr. Pansak Siriruchatapong, Vice Minister for Digital Economy and Society of Thailand shared rich information about how Thailand is going digital on all fronts, from human resources, infrastructure to government services and entrepreneurship development. Similarly, several “Digital India” initiatives are also being deployed with remarkable success, as shared by Mr. Sanjay Kumar, Commercial Representative of the Embassy of India in Thailand.

This august meeting of researchers, regulators, consumer activists, academicians, businesses and the media from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Vietnam, Australia, China and the Philippines, etc is organised on the occasion of the release of research findings of a multi-country project examining the potential of the digital economy for “Regional Inclusive Growth” by CUTS International spanning three countries, viz. India, the Philippines and Vietnam.

The project draws its conclusions from a series of case studies about the uptake of digital technologies and Internet connectivity across various industries and sectors in three project countries, including education and vocational training, health services delivery, urban transportation, and financial services.

The application of digital technologies and Internet connectivity could bring about significant efficiency gains for companies and organisations, and broadly contribute to improving consumer welfare. Digitalisation of economic activities and transactions can help to overcome certain barriers to more inclusive development, and accelerate the efforts towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Toward that end, there is a need to maintain a rights-based approach towards the Digital Economy (DE), adopt an optimal regulatory framework, and capacitate citizens to avail of the DE’s many benefits and avoid the inherent risks to the extent possible.

“ICT-enabled solutions are being deployed for the prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases, ensuring quality and accessible education, promoting financial inclusion, building smart sustainable cities, and encouraging the participation of women and people with disabilities in general economic and social activities,” said Sameer Sharma, Senior Advisor of the International Telecommunications Union, Thailand during the Opening Session of the conference. “Technologies are fundamentally changing the nature of international trade, what we trade, how we trade and at what costs”, echoed Mia Mikic, Director of the Trade, Investment and Innovation Division of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).

Other important topics such as optimal regulation for digital businesses, data privacy, data sovereignty, automation plus artificial intelligence and their impact on the future of work are also being deliberated at the conference.

For more information, please contact Mr. Udai S Mehta (usm@cuts.org, +91 9829 285 926) or Mr. Sidharth Narayan (sid@cuts.org, +91 9810 064 675). The research reports and presentations would soon be made available online at (http://www.cuts-ccier.org/diginomics/).