The Fourth Industrial Revolution is bringing significant changes to ASEAN – the world’s fifth-largest manufacturing economy – and has been a key driver of ASEAN’s growth.
A white paper titled “Shaping ASEAN’s Future Readiness Collaborations to Advance Manufacturing and Production” by the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with AT Kearney, found that multilateral collaboration is imperative to advance manufacturing and production in ASEAN.
Based on the World Economic Forum Country Readiness Index for the future of production, three country archetypes emerge in ASEAN.
They are: Leading (Singapore and Malaysia), Legacy (Thailand and the Philippines) and Nascent (Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia). These three archetypes reflect the reality of ASEAN’s situation, with member states in different stages of economic development. This results in varying degrees of preparedness and action orientation to strengthen the drivers that define the readiness for the future of production.
Two scenarios of manufacturing competitiveness can be envisaged based on how the region addresses the various drivers of production. The first, multi-speed ASEAN, is a less favourable scenario, where the region remains at the status quo and sees the differences in manufacturing competitiveness widen both within ASEAN and compared to other regions. The second, ASEAN as a leading production hub, is where the region collectively adapts its manufacturing and production capabilities to technological disruptions and capitalises on its inherent strengths, further reinforcing its position as a globally leading production and technology development hub.
Findings from the report surfaced six concrete opportunities that can be made into initial showcases of collaboration: (1) Prototyping: setting up 3D printing and prototyping centres of excellence; (2) Smart packaging: jumpstarting the development of smart packaging capabilities; (3) Digital logistics: supporting the development of digital logistics providers and solutions; (4) Academy: establishing a learning and competence academy for SMEs; (5) Circular economy: launching an education and adoption platform for sustainable manufacturing; and (6) Seamless data: creating seamless data exchanges for faster flow of goods.
With these initiatives, ASEAN now has an opportunity to collectively start shaping the future of advanced manufacturing in the region, the report concluded.