Southeast Asia and Oceania

Southeast Asia and Oceania

In Southeast Asia and Oceania (chapter 26), the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership signed in November 2020 has the potential to bind more closely the economies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) with Australia, China, Japan, the Republic of Korea and New Zealand.

The recent publishing record suggests that stronger bilateral ties have been forged among ASEAN scientific communities since the ASEAN Economic Community came into force in 2015. At the multilateral level, however, there have been few effective initiatives since 2015 to close the capacity gap, as ASEAN has a limited operational budget and member states do not tend to share resources.

Research intensity has dipped in Australia and Singapore and progressed in each of Malaysia, New Zealand, Thailand and Viet Nam, creating greater convergence.

There is growing awareness that the digital transformation inherent to Industry 4.0 presents a great challenge for business, government and society at large. In the less developed countries, the priority is to raise the technical and managerial capability of the workforce and accelerate Internet penetration to make the most of this ‘revolution’.

Several ASEAN countries have launched initiatives to integrate Industry 4.0 technologies into manufacturing. For instance, the Making Indonesia 4.0 strategy aims to ramp up industrial performance by transitioning to high-tech, high value-added and specialized activities. The government introduced a 300% tax reduction on research expenditure for firms in 2019. Another example is Singapore’s Standards Mapping for Smart Industry Readiness Index, which defines good practices with regard to reliability, interoperability, safety and cybersecurity in areas related to Industry 4.0.

Several countries are pinning their hopes on special economic zones to attract investment and foster innovation, including Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia. Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor of Innovation aims to establish linkages within the national innovation system, with bio-industry being one focus area.

In striving to improve the ease of doing business, all governments will need to take care to preserve a regulatory framework that is protective of the environment and workforce.

Most countries have developed a strategic plan or performance monitoring framework for the Sustainable Development Goals but few have been able to provide a comprehensive report on their progress. Although policy-makers acknowledge the need to develop capacities in renewable energy, the transition from fossil fuels presents a challenge.

The Pacific Island countries are among the most committed to solar and wind energy. For them, these technologies offer the tantalizing promise of greater energy independence and a lesser reliance on costly fuel imports.

  • Figure 26.1: Socio-economic trends in Southeast Asia and Oceania
  • Figure 26.2: Trends in research expenditure and personnel in Southeast Asia and Oceania
  • Figure 26.3: Trends in higher education in Southeast Asia and Oceania
  • Figure 26.4: Trends in scientific publishing in Southeast Asia and Oceania
  • Figure 26.5: Trends in scientific publishing on cross-cutting strategic technologies in Southeast Asia and Oceania
  • Figure 26.6: Number of IP5 patents granted to inventors from Southeast Asia and Oceania, 2015–2019
  • Figure 26.7: Trends in publishing on SDG-related topics in Southeast Asia and Oceania