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International relations

ASEAN to receive Japan's aid in creating rules for the digital era

Southeast Asia seeks better framework to harness growing tech sector

Japan wants to help Southeast Asia better take advantage of the digital economy.   © Reuters

SINGAPORE -- Japan has agreed to help the Association of Southeast Asian Nations put in place the governing rules necessary for the creation of a digital economy.

Japanese Economic Minister Hiroshige Seko met with his ASEAN counterparts in Singapore on Thursday, on the sidelines of a two-day meeting ending Friday for members of the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership trade deal.

In a joint statement, the ministers welcomed the ASEAN-Japan Fourth Industrial Revolution Initiative -- a plan to strengthen ASEAN's digital economy through supporting new businesses and creating relevant rules. Japan will help the organization develop human resources in the AI sector, and better regulate e-commerce.

Seko also met separately with economic ministers from five Mekong River countries, including Thailand and Vietnam. They agreed to work together on infrastructure development and digital regulations under an updated version of their 2015 Mekong Industrial Development Vision, and to report their progress at a summit planned as early as this year.

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