Although the economic development in ASEAN countries has been discussed quite frequently in recent years, the development of science and technology (S&T) hasn’t attracted so much attention except in Singapore. However, as labor costs rose and politics in foreign relations began to show problems in China, the “China Plus One” management strategy has developed widely in ASEAN countries on the initiative of Japanese companies. As a result, Japanese companies expanded its business not only in Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia that have had a close relationship with Japan, but also in Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia. It is said that this has contributed to the economy growth in these countries. Just as many countries in the world have previously done in the past, when economic growth reaches a certain level, policies for S&T are promoted and strengthened in order to maintain and further develop the growth. This cross-country report summarizes the result of the research and analysis on the progress of S&T in ASEAN countries.
Speaking of the outline of the survey result, the progress of general S&T in ASEAN countries is not so rapid compared to the significant progress in economy.
Most of the countries except for Singapore, which shows high performance as developed as Western countries and Japan, focus on the development of S&T-related infrastructure and human resources with advanced skills. It is still too early for these countries to contribute to the world’s S&T in the front lines. Malaysia and Thailand are thought to be at a relatively high level after Singapore. It is considered that these two countries and Singapore are able to build substantive relationships of cooperation with researchers in Japan, China and South Korea.
Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines follow next. These countries have a large population and are expected to gain great impacts when they see more economy growth in the future, but they have not yet reached that stage as of today. Out of the other four ASEAN countries, Cambodia, Laos (Lao People's Democratic Republic) and Myanmar are busy dealing with nation-building and infrastructure development, and they have yet to implement any S&T activities on a full scale. As Brunei (Brunei Darussalam) has the largest resources, there is no need to proactively conduct S&T activities.
However, all these countries strive to promote S&T in their own way, recognizing its importance in underpinning national capability and economy. In particular, it is interesting to know that each country is conducting bio-related research activities based on the properties of geographical environment and biodiversity that are unique to Southeast Asia.
As for S&T cooperation between Japan and these ASEAN countries, Japan’s research level has been much higher than that of these countries except for some including Singapore, and there are not so many direct advantages to Japan so far. However, it should be noted that ASEAN countries have their eyes not only on Japan. China, which is rapidly growing in the S&T field, has already strengthened economic ties with ASEAN countries. In South Korea, not only the government but also companies such as Samsung are proactive in developing human resources in ASEAN countries as a corporate strategy.