The ASEAN Economic Community and A Technology-Driven Industrial Catch-Up: Three ASEAN Country Cases

Ms. Adiasri Putri Purbantina1,3

1Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies, Waseda University, Shinjuku, Japan, 3Universitas Pembangunan Nasional “Veteran” Jawa Timur, Surabaya, Indonesia

This paper discusses the growing inequality between the catching-up countries and the successful catch-up countries from the perspective of indigenous technology and manufacturing sector development. There is a growing consensus that effective Science, Technology, and Innovation policies, aimed at supporting long-term national structural transformation, are a crucial element in helping latecomer countries escape from the middle-income trap. Citing cases of Northeast Asian catch-up and Latin American middle-income traps, scholars emphasize that the key to catch-up is a triple-helix coordination that is used to transform foreign technology into indigenous technological capabilities. Thus, ideally, the expansion of the global production network, as promoted by the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), provides opportunities for middle-income ASEAN countries to implement this technology-driven industrial catch-up strategy. However, this paper investigates three middle-income ASEAN countries (Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia) and argues that the AEC, as an open market-led economic regionalism scheme, does not have the ability to create a strong sense of urgency on the part of national governments to alter their national STI policy directions. As resource-abundant countries, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia have yet to find any urgent need to prioritize the upgrading of indigenous manufacturing over natural resource-based technological developments.


Adiasri Putri Purbantina is a Ph.D. Candidate from GSAPS, Waseda University and a lecturer of International Relations Department Universitas Pembangunan Nasional “Veteran” Jawa Timur. Her research focus is on countries’ different levels of urgency to pursue a technology-driven industrial catch-up. She received the Japanese Government (MEXT) Scholarship in 2014 and 2016.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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