Cambodian 2023 Digital Economy Forum Facilitates Discussion On Bolstering Support For MSMEs 

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The second Digital Economy Forum took place in Siem Reap, bringing together key stakeholders from the Asia Pacific in the private sector, chambers of commerce, academia, and government to discuss and explore strategies for advancing the digital economy across the region and bolstering support for MSMEs. 

The two-day event, held from August 22-23, 2023 and organised by MangoTango Asia but funded by USAID,  featured sessions focused on providing digital policy support for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), as well as discussions on the evolving digital policy landscape and digital transformation.

B2B Cambodia spoke with Mr. Christopher McCarthy, Vice President of AmCham Cambodia and CEO of MangoTango Asia, as well as Ms. Nancy Jaffe, Chief Strategy Officer at MangoTango Asia about the Digital Economy Forum II.

Ms. Nancy Jaffe said that the event provided a platform for in-depth discussions on the digital transformation of companies, with a more comprehensive scope compared to the first Digital Economy Forum held earlier in 2023. 

“We had a lot of focus on digital transformation of companies, so it’s more of a deep dive I would say than our first one, which was a more high-level discussion of a lot of different policy issues,” she said. 

Mrs. Jaffe added that there may be more in-depth discussions in the future to maximise their impact on business chambers and individuals.

“I think there were a lot of comments that were very interesting to a lot of the other chambers, such as examples of best practices of a very inclusive programme that they have in the Philippines.’ She added that the key policy from the event was the Digital Economy Framework Agreement Act that ASEAN has recently released. 

Mr. Christopher McCarthy emphasised the importance of bringing chambers together and giving the private sector a voice in addressing issues related to the digital economy.

“One of the focal points of this conference is to bring these chambers together and get the private sector focused on what the issues are around digital economy,” he said. McCarthy added  this includes the policies, legislation, and regulations being put in place, “just to make sure that the private sector has a voice in that.”

The range of speakers from various backgrounds shared experiences and stories about policy development in the digital realm, especially from the point of view of the private sector. 

Cambodian 2023 Digital Economy Forum II Sessions

At the Digital Economy Forum seminars, topics covered digital policies and legal framework support for MSMEs, e-commerce and cross-border trade, and the experiences of business in the Asia Pacific region in digital transformation. There were sessions with business chambers representing seven countries, including; Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, the Philippines, Indonesia, Mongolia, and Cambodia.

The Digital Economy Forum II kicked off on Day 1 by highlighting the importance of digital policy support for MSMEs. Mr. Ryan Patrick Garcia-Evangelista, Country Director of the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) in the Philippines, presented on his policy advocacy experience in enabling stakeholders (to engage with each other) in the Philippines. Mr. Siriwat Chhem, Director of the Centre for Inclusive Digital Economy at the Asian Vision Institute (AVI), discussed digital policy support for MSMEs in Cambodia. The morning session ended with a panel discussion on Digital Policy Advocacy and MSME Engagement 

The afternoon session featured Dr. Bradley Jensen Murg, Provost of Paragon University, who delved into the evolving digital policy landscape by presenting developments in the ASEAN Digital Integration Framework.  Mr. Simon Burlinson, a Senior Consultant at DFDL, added insights into the legal framework for digital policy development in Cambodia, while Mr. Jay Cohen, Partner and Director at Tilleke & Gibbins in Cambodia, discussed digital policies supporting e-commerce and cross-border trade. 

The afternoon session ended with a panel discussion on Policy Engagement: Business Chamber Perspective: Indonesia, Mongolia, and Myanmar. 

During the morning session on Day 2, the topics centred around digital transformation for MSMEs. Various speakers, including Dr. Riccardo Corrado, Ms. Marie Hoffmann, Ms. Uyanga Khurelbaatar, Mr. Michael Stahl, and Mr. Warren Daly, presented on policies, experiences, and practical approaches related to digital transformation in MSMEs. The session concluded with a panel discussion on policy issues and digital transformation for MSMEs.

In the afternoon session of Day 2, the focus shifted to future opportunities and challenges. Mr. Christopher McCarthy discussed the future of artificial intelligence in Asia, while Mr. Gareth Davies presented on Bangkok’s thriving tech start-up scene. The afternoon session was given two separate panel discussions on Looking to the Future: Opportunities and Challenges and Policy Engagement: Business Chamber Perspective: Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand.

The final topic of the Digital Economy Forum II provided an overview of opportunities and challenges in digital policy developments, presented by Dr. Bradley Jensen Murg.

Read More About The Digital Economy Forum II: 

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