The advent of disruptive technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), big data, advanced robotics and augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR) — all representative of the Fourth Industrial Revolution — is expected to fundamentally change the global economy. In September 2017, the 7th ASEM Economic Ministerial Meeting (ASEM EMM7) was held in Seoul, Korea, and served as a forum to seek for new ways to respond to these global economic changes. At the ASEM EMM7, the opportunities and challenges that the Fourth Industrial Revolution presents to the ASEM member countries were discussed in depth. In particular, emphasis was placed on regional cooperation among ASEM Partners to alleviate intensifying inequality, and on how to best protect personal information following disruptions to the global value chain brought on by technological shocks, all while maximizing opportunities for improving productivity and creating new industries driven by the technological revolution. ASEM EMM7 launched the Seoul Initiative with "Innovative Partnership for Inclusive Prosperity" as a starting point for ongoing cooperation within the ASEM region.
Korea offered to host the ASEM Conference in 2018 to create an opportunity to continuously and extensively discuss regional cooperation among ASEM Partners revolving around the above-mentioned principles and policy directions, and the proposal was welcomed and supported by ASEM Partner countries.
The ASEM Conference, titled"Inclusive Growth and Cooperation of the ASEM Economies in the Era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution", was held in Seoul, Korea, on 22 November. It provided a forum for discussion to draw up measures that promote policy cooperation in order to maximize opportunities and minimize the adverse effects of the economic and social changes wrought by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This ASEM Conference was a follow-up to the Seoul Initiative held in 2017 and it aimed to foster discussions on the economic and social changes brought on by the Fourth Industrial Revolution in greater depth. It served as a forum for ongoing discussions and a laboratory for the development of policy responses to inequality, and through regional cooperation in the ASEM region to help achieve inclusive prosperity in ASEM Partner countries.