The Digital Creative Economy Can Be a Driver of the Post-Pandemic Economy in ASEAN

The Digital Creative Economy offers significant economic growth opportunities for ASEAN. The creative economy is related to a broad range of industries: from culture to food, entertainment, textiles and crafts, fashion and beauty or tourism. These sectors were already growing pre-pandemic, thanks to a booming digital economy and growing generations of millennials and generation Z consumers who value experiences. Especially in countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, or Singapore were governments developed dedicated strategies or national agencies to support the creative economy. A famous example in Asia of a country that has successfully developed its creative economy is the Republic of Korea (ROK), where the so-called ‘Korea wave’, now an established global phenomenon, is estimated to have contributed to the economy by over 10 billion USD between 2004 and 2015. Investments and partnership in the production of creative digital content between ROK and ASEAN are emerging, and these can contribute further to the development on the ASEAN creative economy.

The ASEAN Creative Economy Business Forum (ACEBF) was organised in Bali on the 17-18 of November 2021 by the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy. The forum had the goal to bring together stakeholders of the creative economy, to exchange views on the possible contribution to build an inclusive creative economy ecosystem that can support the post-pandemic recovery, as mentioned by H. E. Sidharto Suryodipuro, Director General for ASEAN Cooperation, Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in his introduction.

The event was opened by Minister of Tourism and the Creative Economy, Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno, who highlighted the potential for the creative economy to grow and flourish in Indonesia and ASEAN.

During the panel discussion H. E. Satvinder Singh, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN discussed the contribution that the digital and creative economy can make to the post-pandemic recovery. He highlighted the great cultural richness of ASEAN and the fact that a large share of women is employed by the creative economy sector, which can be a driver of a more inclusive recovery.

Dr Giulia Ajmone Marsa, ERIA Director for Strategy and Partnership, explained the link between the digital and creative economy and the emergence of innovation ecosystems across ASEAN. She discussed the importance to couple STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) skills with continuous learning, team-working, inter-disciplinarity to develop a workforce that can thrive in the digital economy. She also mentioned emerging trends that are likely to shape innovation ecosystem across ASEAN in the years to come, including growing cross-border entrepreneurship, sustainability-driven innovation, and a growing number of social enterprises (those companies that not only want to be profitable but also find solutions to social problems).

Mr Ruben Hattari, Netflix Southeast Asia Director of Public Policy, described recent initiatives of the company and the great potential of investing in ASEAN. Recently Asian creative content has been successful globally and increasingly productions from individual ASEAN countries are becoming hits across the region. Netflix also works and collaborates with local governments and policy makers to support the tourism industry, heavily hit by the pandemic, by developing ad hoc content that can make touristic locations visible to a broader audience.

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