High-level policy session 11: Digital economy and trade

10 Apr 2019 10:00h - 11:00h

Event report


The session was moderated by Mr Ted Chen (EverComm Singapore).

Mr Torbjörn Fredriksson (Chief, ICT Policy Section, Division on Technology and Logistics and WSIS Action Line Facilitator UNCTAD) shared that while online shopping across the border has risen from 15 percent to 21 percent in only two years, there is still a huge commerce divide between developed and developing countries. He pointed out the need to give more attention and resources to ensure that developing countries and especially the least developed countries can strengthen their readiness to participate in the e-commerce and digital economy.

Mrs Libom Li Likeng Mendomo Minete (Minister, Ministry of Telecommunications, Posts, Cameroon) spoke on the level of e-commerce in Cameroon and the initiatives undertaken for the development of e-commerce in the country.

Mr Damjan Manchevski (Minister, Ministry of Information Society and Administration, Republic of North Macedonia) stated that the importance of the digital agenda was very high for North Macedonia and the other Balkan countries. In order to boost the digital economy, the Balkan countries have signed an agreement to remove roaming by 2021 and to recognise mutual digital certificates. He outlined the national broadband plan to connect rural areas and stop the migration of people to urban areas; by providing access and e-trade, by use of new technologies, and by provision of a legislative framework to allow citizens to activate electronic identification, migration should diminish. For this he mentioned that government and industry were in accord.

Mr Mikhail Mamonov (Deputy Minister, Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media, Russian Federation) spoke on the investment made by the government to develop Internet infrastructure. For overcoming the challenges in the adoption of e-commerce, he shared that the government had not only created infrastructure by investing in technology, but had also created the environment. The legal and technological challenges for digital trade that he cited were lack of proper legislation to protect personal data, consumers, and payment systems.

Mr Ahmad M. Ramli (Director General for Post and Informatics Operations, Ministry of Communication and Informatics, Indonesia) shared that the government wants to play the role of facilitator. It intends to focus on building the Indonesian digital economy by laying out an ICT infrastructure, including a national fibre high-capacity backbone network, and by building digital literacy skills through partnership. For bolstering the digital economy the government is focusing on cybersecurity, data protection, digital literacy, and education.

Mr Germán Darío Arias (Commissioner, Communications Regulatory Commission, Colombia) spoke on the role of regulator in a digital economy and how a country should measure the digital economy in a global context. He outlined Columbia’s roadmap for telecom infrastructure and its focus on looking at things in a transverse and cross-cutting way. He shared that his country is currently observing the global developments on regulation and sanctions on Internet companies, security data protection, and other regulatory issues before formalising any new rules.

Mr Masanori Kondo (Deputy Secretary General, Asia-Pacific Telecommunity) highlighted the growing significance of the Asia-Pacific market. For promoting transformation to a digital economy, he stressed three points: a policy and regulatory framework that facilitates the development of innovative ICT products and services; an international common business platform where economic activity can flourish; and that a digital economy should be a place where people can embrace it.

Mr Khaled Fattal (Chairman, MLi Group) highlighted the threats posed by the digital economy, including local, regional, and global threats to economies and people’s lives and livelihoods. He spoke of cyberterrorism, and weaponising of AI for cybercrime while highlighting that the present regulatory mechanisms are not adequate to protect nations from cyber-threats. He called for a change in mindsets to match a new description.

Mr Kokula Krishna Hari Kunasekaran (International Secretary, ASDF International) shared that he anticipates the digital economy in 2030 to move towards the use of a universal currency as major stakeholders may merge to form a universal currency. This would also be due to changes in blockchain and bitcoin technology. However, he pointed out challenges in the process, such as a quorum regarding currency values and national levels of importance.

Mrs Tatyana Kanazaveli (CEO, Open Health Network) highlighted the impact of AI in international trade, including potential impacts of blockchain technology. She mentioned that while there were positive and negative sides of technology, the progression of technology cannot be stopped; rather, the focus should be to understand and to address the issues from policy and security points of view. She shared that architecture developed by her organisation enables people to democratise the use of health data, that is, who, when, and how health data is managed.


By Amrita Choudhury