ASEAN leaders court Silicon Valley

Looking to build foreign interest in digital economy plans.

Leaders from Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore met with Silicon Valley companies this week on their plans to use technology for public services and economic growth. Indonesian President Joko Widodo met with the the bosses of Google, Facebook and Twitter yesterday to attract interest in his digital economy plan. Indonesia is aiming for e-commerce startups and companies to bring in US$130 million by 2020, and have 1,000 new tech entrepreneurs by then. “President Jokowi's visit to technology companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter and startups incubator is related to the government’s plan to develop digital-based economy or e-commerce”, said Information and Communications Minister Rudiantara. The President has recently announced a large foreign investment package, opening up 35 industries to full foreign ownership, including in e-commerce. But “we are only at the beginning”, he said, with more measures to make it easier for foreign investors. "We will continue to simplify, continue to open up, continue to modernise our rules and regulations. There are still many excessive permits, licenses, and restrictions", he said. President Widodo’s meetings in Silicon Valley follow his October trip to the US which was cut short by the haze crisis in Indonesia. Earlier in the week Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met with the CEOs Facebook and Apple “to find out what new things they are doing, and how their technologies can help our Smart Nation journey”, he wrote. Prime Minister Lee also met with the CEOs of car manufacturer Tesla and Google, where he was taken on a ride in its self-driving car. Singapore has built its own self-driving cars which it plans to use for public transport. Meanwhile, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has said that he wants to use Artificial Intelligence in government, after meeting with CEOs of IBM, Microsoft and Cisco. Image from Sundar Pichai's Twitter.