The APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) and ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for collaboration on digital economy issues.

14 November 2023 - This week in San Francisco, USA, ABAC and ASEAN-BAC pledged to work collaboratively to optimize joint efforts in research, advocacy, and program development and implementation in support of common goals in the digital economy. Businesses in the APEC and ASEAN regions recognize the criticality of a coherent approach to the major challenges facing our people and region. The initial scope of the collaboration, outlined in an MoU, would be focused on the digital economy, where fragmentation threatens economic growth and shared prosperity. This initial phase will serve as a launchpad that will enable businesses in the region to partner with government and co-create solutions to some of the toughest cross-border challenges such as climate change; energy and food security; as well as trade and investment.


“Our rapidly evolving digital economy has ushered in a new era of unparalleled convenience and efficiency by empowering people and businesses with unprecedented flexibility and speed to innovate, collaborate, and catalyze greater societal well-being,” said ABAC 2023 Chair and Chairman and CEO of East West Bank Dominic Ng. “We are more effective when we work together, and this announcement today is another step forward in ABAC’s and ASEAN’s shared mission to equip businesses of all sizes with the transformational tools and technologies they need to better compete worldwide.”


At ABAC II, hosted in Brunei from April 27-30, 2023, guest speaker and ASEAN-BAC Chair Arsjad Rasjid invited closer collaboration between the two business advisory councils. He noted the opportunities for synergy between ABAC and ASEAN-BAC across five focus pillars of digital transformation, sustainable development, health resilience, food security, and trade & investment facilitation.


ABAC’s Digital and Innovation Working Group (DIWG), and its Chair Jan De Silva, led the process to establish an initial collaborative structure through an ABAC and ASEAN-BAC MoU. The focus of work under the MoU will align with the DIWG’s priorities to empower people and businesses to participate fully and securely in the digital economy, advance alignment on digital economy governance, and enable tech adoption to facilitate trade and sustainability.


ASEAN continues to play an integral role in APEC, with seven APEC member economies part of the regional block. ASEAN-BAC Alternate Chair Bernardino Moningka Vega welcomed the signing, saying, “We are optimistic that this collaboration between ABAC and ASEAN-BAC will create stronger regional integration through joint programs and initiatives.”


Ms De Silva expressed her gratitude to the Chairs of both Councils, highlighting the value of deepening collaboration and engagement between ABAC and ASEAN-BAC.


“While the digital economy is borderless, enabling regulations and trade agreements are not.  That’s why ABAC’s Digital and Innovation Working Group is pleased to partner and collaborate with ASEAN-BAC to promote the enabling conditions for all member economies and communities to unlock their potential and participation,” said Ms De Silva.




APEC Member Economies: Australia; Brunei Darussalam; Canada; Chile; China; Hong Kong, China; Indonesia; Japan; Korea; Malaysia; Mexico; New Zealand; Papua New Guinea; Peru; Philippines; Russia; Singapore; Chinese Taipei; Thailand; United States of America; and Viet Nam. 


ABAC was created by APEC Leaders in 1995 to be the primary voice of business in APEC. Each economy has three members who are appointed by their respective Leaders. They meet four times a year in preparation for the presentation of their recommendations to the Leaders in a dialogue that is a key event in the annual Leaders Meeting. 

Under USA’s leadership, ABAC is pursuing a work program under the theme “Equity. Sustainability. Opportunity.” to respond to the challenge of maintaining the economic vitality of the Asia-Pacific Region and ensure it benefits all. 

ABAC 2023 Chair is Dominic Ng (USA) and the Co-Chairs are Kriengkrai Thiennukul (Thailand) and Julia Torreblanca (Peru), with three (3) working group chairs, namely: Anna Curzon, Economic Integration Working Group (EIWG); Ning Gaoning, Sustainable Growth Working Group (SGWG); and Janet De Silva, Digital and Innovation Working Group (DIWG); and two (2) Task Force Chairs, namely: Hafimi Abdul Haadii, Inclusion Task Force (ITF); and Hiroshi Nakaso, Finance Task Force (FTF). 

The ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) was established by the ASEAN Heads of State and Government (HOSGs) at the 7th ASEAN Summit in November 2001 in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam. Launched in April 2003, ASEAN-BAC was set up with the mandate to provide private sector feedback and guidance to boost ASEAN’s efforts towards economic integration.


For further information please contact:

Mr. Antonio Basilio, Director, ABAC Secretariat  Mobile: +63 917 849 3351  Email: 

Mr. Gil Gonzales, Executive Director, ASEAN-BAC Secretariat   Mobile: +63 917 809 0523   Email: