August 21, 2023
WIPO Director General Daren Tang joined Economic Ministers from the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at their meeting in Indonesia, where he signed a forward-looking agreement with ASEAN to expand the use of intellectual property (IP) in supporting economic, social and cultural development across the region.
Mr. Tang and ASEAN Secretary-General Kao Kim Hourn, signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the sidelines of the 55th ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) meeting held in the city of Semarang, where Mr. Tang spoke to Ministers about the importance of IP as a catalyst of growth and development.
“IP must become more inclusive, supporting not just big corporations but also start-ups and SMEs, youth and women, and helping especially developing countries and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to use IP to develop,” Mr. Tang told the Ministers from 10-member ASEAN bloc.
Mr. Tang noted that trademark applications from ASEAN Member States have grown 300% over the past ten years, with patent applications up by 60 percent and design filings up by 30 percent. Today, only China and the United States file more trademark applications than ASEAN Member States combined, said Mr. Tang.
Mr. Tang said that research and development (R&D) expenditure has grown fivefold over the past two decades in the ASEAN region to over USD$50 billion. And among developing economies, four ASEAN Members – Viet Nam, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand – are among the top 10 exporters of creative goods, generating close to USD 40 billion in 2020.
Through the MoU, ASEAN and WIPO will step up collaboration on four key areas: empowering SMEs to use IP in support of trade and exports; using IP to leverage digital technologies for business success; unlocking IP and intangible assets for collaterization and monetization; and supporting ASEAN’s creative industries.
“IP is the epicenter of our efforts to cultivate a competitive and innovative region that thrives on inclusive economic growth, social advancement and enduring prosperity,” said Dr. Kao.
Mr. Tang also launched the ASEAN IP Register together with Dr. Kao and AEM Chair and Minister of Trade for Indonesia Zulkifli Hasan.
The register enables critical IP data to flow across ASEAN and around the world. It is a single, one-stop portal that gives free online access to all the region’s patent, trademark and design records, Mr. Tang said.
WIPO aims to extend these easily accessible features to other IP rights and business services to drive IP and business development and commercialization across the region, Mr. Tang said.
Mr. Tang also held talks with the ASEAN Economic Ministers during his visit. The Ministers underlined that IP plays a vital role in spurring innovation, enabling businesses to monetize their creativity, enhancing competitiveness of MSMEs and inspiring entrepreneurship among the young generation of ASEAN. They looked forward to further collaboration with WIPO to truly harness the potential of IP as a catalyst for inclusive and sustainable growth in the region.