Improving laws and regulations will be essential to the recovery from the economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and other crises. The pandemic demonstrated how inefficient, outdated, or obsolete regulations may place undue burdens on businesses and society; it also showed that changes can be made swiftly and have substantial positive impacts. Decision makers will be taking stock of what has worked during this extraordinary period to learn how to regulate faster, better, and more co-operatively to stimulate innovation and productivity.

As such, this report seeks to capture the dynamism of regulatory reforms in response to global challenges, with a focus on the Southeast Asian (SEA) region. It describes the current state of play in three key priority areas for regulatory reform: whole-of-government initiatives, use of good regulatory practices (GRPs), and regulatory innovations such as the use of digital tools. It builds on the robust high-level regional strategies to encourage regulatory reform by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as well as past OECD reports such as Good regulatory practices to support small and medium enterprises in Southeast Asia (2018), and Regulatory responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in Southeast Asia (2021).

Chapter 1 of this report presents an overview of key trends in regulatory reform across the SEA region; Part I provides the evidence base for this analysis with data collected from all 10 ASEAN Member States presented in fact-based country profiles. These data were collected through a survey with senior better regulation officials via the ASEAN-OECD Good Regulatory Practices Network (GRPN), further complemented with interviews and a workshop to test initial findings.

The report notes the solid efforts made by ASEAN Member States in various elements of regulatory reforms. Whole-of-government initiatives focus strongly on international regulatory co-operation, probably because of ASEAN strategies to foster regional integration, while national strategies for regulatory reform continue to focus mainly on business outcomes and less on whole-of-society benefits. Good regulatory practices – including regulatory impact assessments (RIAs), stakeholder consultation and ex post reviews – continue to be a priority, but still face implementation challenges and are often seen as a procedural requirement, which may require additional investments in regulatory oversight. Countries are investing strongly in digital tools to improve regulatory policy design and delivery, especially to reduce burdens. However, the unequal distribution of benefits from digitalisation need to be addressed. Various challenges and future priorities for reforms are discussed to support the further iteration of regulatory systems in the ASEAN region.

This report supports the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint and Comprehensive Recovery Framework and Implementation Plan. It was produced with the support of the Government of the United Kingdom, with initial key messages tested in a Special Technical Workshop of the GRPN on 24 March 2022. It was reviewed by the OECD Regulatory Policy Committee in June 2022. The report builds on the work conducted by the OECD Public Governance Directorate on better regulation in Southeast Asia as part of the OECD Southeast Asia Regional Programme.

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