Thematic engagement to solve regional and global challenges

The OECD Southeast Asia Regional Programme’s structure is designed to encourage a systematic exchange of experiences to develop common solutions to regional and global policy challenges. It is comprised of thematic Regional Policy Networks (RPNs) and Initiatives, and a regional Economic Outlook, which build on the work programme of OECD and Southeast Asian bodies and dialogue processes.

The key priority areas of the Programme's RPNs are Tax, Good Regulatory Practice, Investment Policy and Promotion, Education and Skills Development, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs), and Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) to support connectivity for infrastructure development.

Further work is being developed through Initiatives on Competition, Trade, Innovation and Gender. The Programme comprises an overarching Economic Outlook for Southeast Asia, China and India that monitors medium-term macroeconomic trends and regional integration, playing an important role in identifying emerging trends in the region and providing input into the different work streams.


Regional Policy Networks (RPNs)

Tax Policies and Administration

The RPN aims to promote co-operation regionally and with the global tax community, sharing best practices in international tax issues, tax administration and tax policy.

The RPN works to address current key issues such as enhancing and modernising tax systems by countering base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) and increasing transparency and information exchanges for tax purposes.

The RPN encourages the involvement of the region in the development of a statistical database for policy reform.

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Good Regulatory Practices

The RPN serves to assist ASEAN member countries in building and strengthening capacity for the implementation of good regulatory practice to ensure high-quality regulation and regulatory coherence.

It also includes a series of good regulatory practice reviews and regional indicators on regulatory policies and product market regulation.

ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025 identifies the OECD as a knowledge partner to assist ASEAN member countries in regulatory reform initiatives.

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Investment Policy and Promotion

The RPN serves as a platform to discuss and exchange experiences among ASEAN and OECD countries in the areas of investment policy reform and business climate improvements, and how these can contribute to narrowing the development gap within ASEAN.

The RPN draws on individual Investment Policy Reviews that have been conducted by the OECD over the past few years in Southeast Asia, notably Viet Nam (2009, 2018), Indonesia (2010), Malaysia (2013), Myanmar (2014,forthcoming 2019) the Philippines (2016), Lao PDR (2017),  Cambodia (2018) and Southeast Asia (2018). The OECD is currently undertaking an IPR of Thailand and second Review of Myanmar and Indonesia.

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Education and Skills Development

The work stream on Education and Skills aims to foster knowledge exchange in support of national growth and regional integration by encouraging a whole-of-government approach to the formation and implementation of skills policies. The RPN brings together senior officials across labour and education ministries within the ASEAN region to exchange knowledge and build capacities.

With the growing participation by Southeast Asian countries in the OECD’s international education surveys (PISATALIS and PIAAC), OECD Skills Strategy projects,  reviews on vocational education and training (VET) and reviews on local job creation, the RPN can provide valuable comparative data and analysis to help countries in the region build more efficient and effective education and skills systems.

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Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME)

The RPN on SMEs aims to promote SME development in the ASEAN region and enhance dialogue on SME policies based on good practice examples. Trusted partner of ASEAN Co-ordinating Committee for MSME Development (ACCMSME), RPN supports ACCMSMEwith a wide range of subjects covering Digital Economy, Access to Markets, Productivity or others. 

The RPN meetings help to promote good practice examples relates to the design and implementation of SME policies and enterprise development, the ASEAN Strategic Action Plan for MSME Development (2016-2025) as well as the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025. Currently together with the ACCMSME the RPN conducts the next edition of the ASEAN SME Policy Index helping to benchmark SME-related policies in ASEAN Member States. 

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Sustainable Infrastructure

The RPN aims to strengthen ASEAN economies’ infrastructure governance frameworks. It supports the ASEAN Secretariat and the ASEAN Member States in establishing a well-connected ASEAN Economic Community and implementing the Master Plan for ASEAN Connectivity 2025.

The network’s activities include diagnostic work, tailored advice, comparative data collection, training, and other capacity building activities relating to sustainable infrastructure, capital investment and regional connectivity

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The Trade Initiative aims to foster closer dialogue on trade issues with policymakers in Southeast Asia over time, to ensure the relevance of OECD’s work on trade to the region with a view to helping inform policy, and to promote the gradual integration of countries in Southeast Asia into relevant areas of OECD trade work.

Much of the OECD Trade Committee’s work is highly relevant to the efforts by ASEAN member countries to improve market connectivity; this is particularly the case in relation to on-going work on trade facilitation, services trade and the factors that shape effective participation in global value chains.

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The Innovation Initiative serves as a platform to discuss and exchange experiences among Southeast Asian and OECD countries on policies for innovation. It explores ways to incorporate Southeast Asian countries into the science, technology and innovation work of the OECD and to draw out relevant lessons for their economic and social development.

Much of the work of the OECD's Committee for Scientific and Technological Policy and Committee on Digital Economy Policy is highly relevant to the SEA region, and the Initiative is further informed by the inclusion of several Southeast Asian countries in the biennial OECD Science, Technology and Industry Outlook and databases such as OECD-WTO Trade in Value Added (TiVA)

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The OECD aims to promote gender equality in the global economy, including through gender-sensitive analysis and economic policy-making, to enable women to realise their potential as drivers of innovation, job creation, fair decision-making and economic growth. The Southeast Asia Gender Initiative aims to mainstream gender considerations across the different components of the OECD work programme and to support regional needs on these issues.

A recent publication have showed that a significant portion of women entrepreneurs (66%) relied on their own savings to self-start their business. In addition to personal savings, women entrepreneurs in ASEAN often rely on family money or turn to other relatives and friends for financial support, as was confirmed by the recent survey conducted by the OECD across ASEAN.

The Initiative published Strengthening Women's Entrepreneurship in ASEAN, a report looking at existing policies and frameworks in the region in support of women entrepreneurship, it suggests recommendations based on OECD good practices. It was launched in September 2017 at the ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting in Manila, the Philippines.

The OECD Social Institutions & Gender Index (SIGI) provides cross-country measures of discriminatory social institutions, covering all countries in the region. East Asia and the Pacific was one of the strongest regional performers in 2014, and a 2016 regional report on East Asia and the Pacific highlighted the potential gains for the region’s growth and sustainable development if discriminatory social institutions are eliminated. The SIGI 2019 Global Report provides an overview of the main outcomes of the SIGI in relation to women and the family, their physical integrity, access to productive and financial resources and their civic rights.

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The Competition Initiative aims to provide support the implementation of the ASEAN Competition Action Plan 2016 - 2025. The Initiative was recently included in the OECD Southeast Asia Regional Programme at its Inter-Sessional Steering Group Meeting in September 2018 in Paris. 

Working in close co-operation with the AMS, the ASEAN Secretariat (ASEC) and the ASEAN Experts Group on Competition (AEGC), the OECD, with finaicial support from the UK's Prosperity Fund,  will support the implementation of the ASEAN Competition Action Plan (ACAP) 2016-2025 and contribute to the ASEC’s mission to attain a level playing field for all firms through effective competition policy

Drawing from the ACAP, the project supports the implementation of two key areas: reducing anti-competitive regulation and enhancing competitive neutrality for state-owned enterprises. The focus of the project will be the logistics sector in all 10 ASEAN countries. Efficient logistics can play a significant role in increasing a country’s economic development by facilitating international trade and improving its competitiveness. 

The Economic Outlook for Southeast Asia, China and India

The Economic Outlook for Southeast Asia, China and India is a bi-annual publication on Asia’s economic growth, development and regional integration process.

‌‌The Outlook project was officially launched in 2010. It is the result of policy dialogue and consultation through Informal Consultation Group meetings in Paris and the Asian Regional Roundtable on Macroeconomic and Structural Policy Challenges jointly organised with AMRO, ADB/ADBI and ERIA.

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