Disruptive technologies


Disruptive technologies drive a transformative reorganisation of economic structures. This project explores how certain Southeast Asian countries can harness their potentials to achieve sustainable development.


Project background and aims

This paper was a response to the call by a leading, Geneva-based think-tank—the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) to contribute to its “Programme on Inclusive Economic Transformation.” With the view to empowering least developed countries and low-income countries across the Indo-Pacific region to achieve sustainable development and inclusive growth, this paper explores the implications of disruptive technologies—in particular, artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain—for the CLMV countries (i.e., Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam) by addressing the following questions: (1) What is disruptive innovation? ; (2) What, if any, are the social and economic ramifications of these innovations? (3) Whether, and if so, with what policy tools should regulators respond to these challenges? (4) What are, if any, the implications of these regulatory interference for the existing trading and investment regime? (5) Last but certainly not least, what is the role of developing and least developed countries—inter alia, CLMV countries—amid these technological challenges? How do policymakers, through a myriad of legal and policy innovations, envision a future for the balanced coexistence of disruptive technology, inclusive and just society, and sustainable development?


As a policy paper and considering its target audience, this paper is based on not only traditional legal analysis, but also empirical data. Also, because the focal point of the paper is CLMV, which are in turn part of ASEAN, we rest our analysis on a comparative study by exploring not only CLMV but other ASEAN countries tap into disruptive technologies and manage their ramifications.


The paper argues that CLMV can leverage disruptive technologies, as some other countries have done, in five major issue areas, including reshaping property law and land registration, improving participation and access of disadvantaged groups, facilitating international trade through banking innovation, innovating food safety and supply chain management, and reinventing services and manufacturing sectors via AI. Having identified major institutional challenges for the CLMV countries to reap the benefit of disruptive technologies, this paper map out three strategies that help them align disruptive technologies with sustainable development goal. CLMV should, as the first step, improve their infrastructure and human capital. On this basis, the policymakers should engage technologically informed and adaptive regulatory reforms while at the same time, ensuring adequate accountability, transparency, and fairness when incorporating these new technologies into their respective legal regimes.


  • This paper has been featured at ICTSD’s website in the form of “Issue Paper series".
  • Of particular note is that co-authors were included by ICTSD to join many leading scholars in the field (e.g., Prof. Mark Wu at Harvard Law School; Prof. Petros Mavoridis at Columbia Law School) as part of its “Expert Network".