AP IT SUMMIT: Industry to sell leaders on E-ASEAN

Representatives of the private-sector IT industry are to get their first opportunity to meet with the leaders of the 10 ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries at the end of this month.

In an hour-long session on November 28, the IT representatives will introduce the politicians to the concept of E-ASEAN, a way to electronically bring together the 10 very different nations and sell them on the concept of electronic commerce as a way to enhance their level of global competitiveness.

The ASEAN countries - Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam - have a wide disparity between their respective IT infrastructures and adoption of e-commerce, according to Roberto Romulo. Romulo, who will head up the IT delegation, is chairman of Equitable Card Group, a Philippines credit card company. E-ASEAN was one of the topics being explored today at the Asia-Pacific IT Summit taking place here.

Known as the ASEAN Information Infrastructure (AII) core group, the IT representatives will show the assembled heads of state a video on E-ASEAN. The politicians first committed to the E-ASEAN concept at the beginning of last month after the 31st ASEAN economic ministers' meeting.

Dinesh Senan, chairman and chief executive officer of Connect!, the company that created the E-ASEAN video, gave the conference attendees a sneak peak of the video which aims to condense the findings of a white paper that AII will deliver to the ASEAN heads of state on November 28. The white paper endeavors to address the question how can the ASEAN nations "collectively harness the potentials of digital commerce," Senan said.

The video emphasises the actions governments should take to help facilitate e-commerce, namely increasing their countries' telephone and computer densities and boosting IT education to produce knowledge workers. Also key is the formulation of policy and laws on issues including computer and 'Net privacy, the protection of intellectual property rights and ways to improve nations' regulatory frameworks in the areas of IT and telecommunications.

Senan introduced the concept of ASEANworld.com, a Web portal umbrella site that will serve all ASEAN nations. Groupings on a prototype of the portal included government, education and training, people and culture, along with tourism.

The portal will act as place to facilitate interaction between local businesses and foreign companies, as well as a way for would-be tourists to discover more about ASEAN nations and book hotels and flights, he said. ASEANworld.com will include a pan-ASEAN cybermall called ASEANmall.net where consumers can comparison shop, Senan added.

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