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Economy

Making the digital age work for ASEAN

The OECD is helping close internet access gaps and foster vital skills

| Vietnam
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Smartphones help commuters pass the time at a train station in Jakarta.   © Reuters

Southeast Asia is one of the world's most dynamic regions, with vast endowments of natural resources, an increasingly diversified economy, an expanding middle class and growing global influence. With the launch of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015, the bloc is generating even more opportunities for growth and employment. If the Association of Southeast Asian Nations were a single country, it would already be the world's seventh-largest economy, with a gross domestic product of $2.4 trillion in 2015.

Perhaps most importantly, it is a region with promising prospects. Not only does it have a sustained growth rate, averaging 5% over the past 15 years, but almost 60% of total growth since 1990 has come from productivity gains. With a literate population of more than 600 million people, and 40% under the age of 30, it is further investing in education. Singapore topped the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment ranking in science, which measures the knowledge and skills of 15-year-old students, while Vietnam scored above the OECD average. In addition, the region possesses a well-developed information and communications technology cluster.

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