Turbocharging Digital Transformation in Emerging Markets: Unleashing the Power of AI in Agritech (ITC)

Table of contents

Disclaimer: This is not an official record of the UNCTAD eWeek session. The DiploAI system automatically generates these resources from the audiovisual recording. Resources are presented in their original format, as provided by the AI (e.g. including any spelling mistakes). The accuracy of these resources cannot be guaranteed. The official record of the session can be found on the UNCTAD website.

Full session report

Martin Labbé

During the discussion, speakers explored the application of blockchain technology in various sectors. It was highlighted that blockchain provides a decentralised database and ensures data integrity. This technology is particularly relevant in ensuring traceability within the new European Union (EU) regulatory framework. By utilising blockchain, companies can securely store and track information, allowing for more transparent and accountable processes.

Another topic that was highlighted during the discussion was the use of PharmaConnect’s solution for shea nut collectors. This innovative solution enables offline data collection, which can be synchronised and uploaded onto the blockchain once the collectors return to their offices. By employing this solution, shea nut collectors in Ghana and other regions can efficiently collect data and ensure its accuracy, thereby supporting their livelihoods.

The speakers also emphasised the potential of various digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain, in supporting smallholder farmers to improve their agricultural practices. For instance, AI platforms can analyse satellite imagery and weather data to provide insights on optimal planting times and crop choices, thereby aiding in agricultural sustainability and profitability. Furthermore, companies like Descartes Lab and AgroCare are successfully leveraging AI to provide services to farmers and enhance their productivity.

However, it was recognised that agri-tech startups face challenges in creating sustainable business models and generating revenue, particularly when working with smallholder farmers. These startups often rely on other stakeholders, such as mobile network operators, input providers, and banks, to fund their services, but this support is not always consistent or sustainable. To address this issue, improved connectivity and access to digital payments were suggested as potential solutions.

The importance of digital innovations for agricultural productivity was acknowledged, but obstacles to monetising these technologies were also discussed. While there have been advancements in connectivity and digital payment access, challenges in achieving sustainable monetisation persist. This indicates the need for further exploration of business models that can effectively generate revenue from digital technologies in the agricultural sector.

The speakers also discussed the need for data accuracy and context-specific information to efficiently implement AI in different parts of the world. For instance, generative AI, such as chatbots for farmers, relies on user-collected data, and ensuring the accuracy of this data is essential for its effective use. Additionally, the role of government support in funding and infrastructure for AI in agriculture was highlighted, with the example of Descartes Lab in Mexico, which receives partial support from the government.

However, the struggle to monetise AI services in emerging economies, where smallholder farming is prevalent, was acknowledged. Unlike commercial farming setups in North America, emerging economies often lack the financial capacity to pay for these technologies, posing a challenge for startups operating in these regions.

In conclusion, the discussion revolved around the potential and challenges of digital technologies, including blockchain and AI, in various aspects of agriculture. While these technologies offer promising solutions to improve agricultural practices, issues such as sustainable business models, revenue generation, data accuracy, and monetisation in emerging economies need to be addressed. Government support and the adoption of best practices across different geographies were also identified as crucial elements for the advancement and widespread implementation of digital technologies in the agricultural sector.

Benjamin Kwasi Addom

Data, artificial intelligence (AI), and new technologies have the potential to greatly benefit agriculture by assisting farmers in making informed decisions and managing their crops more effectively. For example, in Uganda, data combined with AI has been used to support farmers in determining the best times for planting and harvesting, which can significantly improve crop yields. Furthermore, the use of data can enable the implementation of crop insurance programs and accurately predict and mitigate negative events such as droughts, providing farmers with financial support when needed.

However, the success of agritech enterprises heavily relies on data quality and access. While these technologies offer significant opportunities, they need to be complemented with accurate and reliable data. Many startups in this industry are currently facing challenges due to data issues, emphasizing the importance of ensuring data quality and accessibility for the overall success of the sector.

To support agritech companies, the implementation of policies is encouraged by the Commonwealth Secretariat. The Secretariat recognises the value and potential of these enterprises and is taking a policy angle to facilitate their growth and development. Encouraging equal opportunities for all innovators, regardless of their background or size, is another key focus. The Secretariat aims to promote a level playing field and ensure that all innovators receive fair consideration and support.

Another critical aspect to consider is the management of national agricultural data. Currently, there are challenges related to data being disaggregated and duplicated, particularly within smallholder agriculture. This can hinder the effectiveness of agri-tech business models. To address this, it is suggested that countries should enhance their national agricultural data infrastructure. By managing data at the country level, a larger and more comprehensive data infrastructure can be created, allowing AI tools and technologies to operate more efficiently.

Furthermore, it is proposed that the sharing of polygon data of farms within national data infrastructure can significantly reduce costs and duplication. Currently, multiple agri-companies in the same country often map the same field multiple times, resulting in unnecessary duplication and high expenses. Storing GPS coordinates of fields in a centralised national infrastructure can streamline information sharing, making it easier and more cost-effective for all stakeholders.

It is also crucial to tackle the issue of data duplication and the lack of a single identity for farmers within national infrastructure. Often, the same farmer’s information is duplicated in different systems within the same country, causing additional burdens and unnecessary costs. The creation of a single identity for each farmer and ensuring that it is stored and protected within the national infrastructure can help address this issue.

By addressing these challenges and improving data management and accessibility within the agricultural sector, the overall business model for startups can be enhanced. This will create a more supportive environment for innovation and advancement in agritech, leading to greater benefits for farmers and the industry as a whole.

Moreover, while AI and new technologies have significant potential in agriculture, it is crucial to understand that they should not replace human involvement but rather complement it. Artificial intelligence should be seen as a tool to support and augment human decision-making and scientific knowledge, rather than completely replacing human expertise.

In conclusion, data, AI, and new technologies offer great potential in revolutionising and improving agriculture. However, to fully harness their benefits, it is important to address challenges related to data quality and accessibility. Implementing supportive policies, managing national agricultural data effectively, and reducing duplication will contribute to the success of agritech enterprises and ensure equal opportunities for all innovators. Furthermore, while AI can enhance decision-making processes, it should be utilised as a complementary tool alongside human involvement. By effectively leveraging these resources, we can create a more sustainable and efficient agricultural sector that benefits farmers, the industry, and the wider community.

Susanne Emonet

The discussion focused on the need for traceability in supply chains to ensure responsible consumption and production. It was highlighted that traceability is challenging in complex supply chains and that it cannot be ascertained by sight if child labour or deforestation was involved in a product’s production. To overcome these challenges, blockchain technology was suggested as a solution to support traceability. It was explained that blockchain provides a shared bookkeeping system in which the same unalterable data is stored. This allows the product to be traced through traders, brands, retailers, and eventually to the consumer.

A case study on the use of offline tooling for traceability by Savanna Fruits was presented, showcasing positive results in Shea nut sourcing in Ghana. It was stated that Shea nuts are collected on public grounds where control is absent, and offline tooling helps to record transactions of both Shea and payment. This system allows training on sustainable practices, foundational records for premium payments, and the data gathered is uploaded to the supply chain and used by partners.

Another application of blockchain technology was mentioned, which focuses on ensuring proper traceability in the context of a new regulatory framework in the EU. It was explained that data is collected offline and then synchronized when collectors return to the office, after which it is uploaded to the blockchain.

Efforts to avoid child labor in cocoa farming were discussed. A client in Côte d’Ivoire was mentioned, who was willing to pay significant premiums to enable cocoa farmers to send their children to school and pay workers instead. The traceability core system was linked and enriched by a connection to flip phones, enabling direct communication and payment confirmation from the farmer’s side.

The potential of digital payments was highlighted as a promising tool for transparency in supply chains. Mobile money deployments across Africa were cited as a reliable digital payment form, and it was suggested that digital payments can replace physical payments, adding automated traceability to the transactions.

The importance of interoperability was emphasized, stating that a system capable of taking data from various sources avoids doubling of effort and data. It was also mentioned that interoperability ensures supply chains remain flexible to accommodate business needs.

Financial viability was discussed in the context of transparency technology. It was mentioned that transparency is an additional cost, so it needs to be as lean as possible to be cost-effective. Additionally, it was noted that investments in sustainability should not solely be spent on technology.

The need for data protection was highlighted, particularly when dealing with significant amounts of data. It was stated that the potential knowledge gained from data collection is too significant to not be protected. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was cited as a crucial framework for ensuring data protection.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) was discussed as a tool that should add value and address issues such as sustainable agriculture and smart agriculture. AI’s ability to enhance data validation was presented as an advantage, as it can systematically check large data pools and monitor data entry patterns for significant changes.

The role of AI in supplier selection mechanisms and risk assessments was also highlighted. It was argued that AI can improve these processes by building trustworthy data.

The value of AI for traceability and data validation was recognized. It was mentioned that AI can strengthen the trustworthiness of data and can be integrated with third-party satellite data.

Lastly, the importance of technology solutions worth paying for and involving investors from later parts of the supply chain was emphasized. It was noted that most investors come from later parts of the supply chain and that expensive technology for first-mile solutions may be limited.

Overall, the summary highlights the various perspectives and solutions discussed to enhance traceability in supply chains, emphasizing the need for responsible consumption and production. It also underscores the key role of blockchain technology, offline tooling, digital payments, interoperability, financial viability, data protection, and AI in achieving transparency and sustainability.

J.Sjaak Wolfert

The analysis emphasises the importance of organising the process of digital transformation in agriculture, rather than solely relying on the technology itself. It argues that digital transformation is more about the effective organisation of the process, taking into consideration factors such as ethical, legal, and social aspects, rather than simply focusing on the technological advancements.

Furthermore, the analysis highlights the significance of viability and robustness in innovation ecosystems for successful digital transformation in agriculture. It suggests that developing lean multi-actor approaches and considering various aspects such as ethical, legal, social, and business modelling can contribute to the creation of these ecosystems.

The analysis proposes embedding projects in a larger network of digital innovation hubs as a long-term and sustainable solution for digital innovation in agriculture. This approach allows for the utilisation of state-of-the-art knowledge required for scaling up specific solutions. The Smart AgriHubs project, funded by the European Commission, is mentioned as an example of this embedded approach.

Challenges in AI farming technology are also discussed in the analysis. The business model is identified as one of the major challenges, as the market size is not always large enough, leading to fragmentation in different types of farming. Additionally, technology providers often focus on specific groups, which makes scaling up solutions difficult. Furthermore, the high cost of solutions hinders their adoption by farmers, despite their added value.

The analysis emphasises the importance of trust in AI technologies for farmers. However, due to the complex nature of AI, explaining how the technology works can be challenging, which can affect the level of trust. Furthermore, intellectual property rights can potentially conflict with the need for explainability, posing another obstacle to trust in AI.

Data management and policy are highlighted as crucial aspects of AI farming technology. The vast amount of data collected raises questions regarding its use and whether it complies with regulations. The European Commission is working on several acts to regulate data use, considering issues such as intellectual property rights and the explainability of AI algorithms.

Combining different types of funding is suggested as a means to avoid fragmentation in the innovation process. By integrating public and private funding, the innovation process can be streamlined and more efficient.

The analysis emphasises the importance of continuous development in digital innovations. By treating digital innovations as an ongoing process, rather than a one-time implementation, continuous improvements and advancements can be made.

Lastly, the analysis highlights the significance of embedding digital innovations in effective ecosystems. This involves integrating digital innovation hubs and knowledge networks into competent centres. By doing so, the exchange of knowledge, expertise, and resources can be facilitated, leading to more successful and impactful digital innovations in agriculture.

In conclusion, the analysis stresses the importance of focusing on the process rather than solely relying on technology in digital transformation in agriculture. It underscores the significance of innovation ecosystems, embedding projects in larger networks, addressing challenges in AI farming technology, data management and policy, funding integration, and continuous development of digital innovations. These insights and recommendations provide a comprehensive understanding of the key factors and considerations for successful digital transformation in agriculture.

Elisabetta Demartis

The adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) in agriculture has the potential to greatly improve access to information and advisory services, particularly in remote areas. For example, Descartes Lab, a Mexican company supported by the government, uses AI to analyse market demand through satellite imagery and weather data. Similarly, AI-powered devices like AgroCare’s Nutrient Scanner can monitor soil health and provide estimates of missing nutrients, thereby helping farmers make informed decisions about their crops.

To ensure the full efficiency of AI in agriculture, sustainability must be prioritised alongside profitability. This involves integrating intelligence that can elaborate on collected data. AI can play a crucial role in promoting sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices, which can aid in combating climate change and related challenges. By leveraging AI, farmers can make more environmentally conscious decisions regarding resource allocation, pest control, and crop cultivation.

However, it is important to emphasise the need for human oversight in the input and output of data, particularly in generative AI systems like chatbots for farmers. Human verification is necessary to ensure the accuracy, usefulness, and context-specificity of the data used in these systems. This is crucial for building trust and effectively utilising AI technology.

The business model for AI in farming can be particularly challenging, especially for smallholder farmers in emerging economies. Monetisation of AI services may be difficult for these farmers due to their limited financial capacity. To address this, business models that can reach smallholder and low-income farmers are essential. For example, the “free option” model, where a third party such as the government, a development organisation, or a telecom operator provides and pays for the solution, can be effective. Another model is “data monetisation,” where insights from user data are sold to third parties. However, transparency, data protection, and farmer data ownership must be carefully considered in such arrangements.

The sustainability of AI solutions in agriculture is also a challenge that needs to be addressed. Ensuring the continuity of AI initiatives after project funding or donor support ends is crucial for long-term effectiveness. Therefore, business models and strategies should be developed to ensure the sustainability and scalability of AI solutions in agriculture.

Engaging communities in the creation of business models may provide a potential solution to the challenges faced in AI adoption in farming. By involving farmers and allowing them to feel like contributors to the system, their interest and participation can be fostered. This can be achieved by not only seeking their information but also involving them in buying other services offered by the system. Such community engagement has the potential to address some of the challenges related to the business model and enhance the effectiveness of AI in agriculture.

Interoperability of systems, both within countries and among countries, is crucial for efficient data management in agriculture. The ability to share and exchange data is important for effective decision-making and collaboration. By ensuring interoperability, AI can be used more efficiently to drive innovation and improve agricultural practices on a global scale.

It is important to remember that the purpose of AI in agriculture should be to support human tasks, not replace them. Jobs within the agri-food value chain, such as advisory services, should be maintained to promote decent work and economic growth. AI should be seen as a tool to assist humans, enhancing their capabilities and decision-making processes.

Finally, it is crucial to develop AI solutions that can address the challenges faced by marginalized groups, including women, vulnerable individuals, and those affected by displacement, climate change effects, and conflicts. By addressing the specific needs and circumstances of these groups, AI can contribute towards achieving gender equality, climate action, and peacebuilding initiatives.

In conclusion, AI has the potential to revolutionise agriculture by providing access to information and advisory services, improving sustainability practices, and addressing the specific needs of marginalized groups. However, challenges such as business models, sustainability, and data management need to be overcome for the full realisation of AI’s benefits in agriculture. It is important to approach the adoption of AI in agriculture with careful consideration of its ethical implications and a focus on enhancing human capabilities and inclusivity.

BK

Benjamin Kwasi Addom

Speech speed

154 words per minute

Speech length

1612 words

Speech time

628 secs

ED

Elisabetta Demartis

Speech speed

122 words per minute

Speech length

1407 words

Speech time

692 secs

JW

J.Sjaak Wolfert

Speech speed

159 words per minute

Speech length

2277 words

Speech time

859 secs

ML

Martin Labbé

Speech speed

168 words per minute

Speech length

1762 words

Speech time

630 secs

SE

Susanne Emonet

Speech speed

174 words per minute

Speech length

2092 words

Speech time

720 secs

Trade regulations in the digital environment: Is there a gender component? (UNCTAD)

Table of contents

Disclaimer: This is not an official record of the UNCTAD eWeek session. The DiploAI system automatically generates these resources from the audiovisual recording. Resources are presented in their original format, as provided by the AI (e.g. including any spelling mistakes). The accuracy of these resources cannot be guaranteed. The official record of the session can be found on the UNCTAD website.

Full session report

Awa Caba

Women entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) face various challenges when trading online and accessing international markets. Awa Caba, an advocate for women’s empowerment in business, highlights the barriers that hinder women entrepreneurs in international and sub-regional trade. These barriers include sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, logistics, and incidental costs.

To address these challenges, Awa proposes leveraging e-commerce platforms to assist women SMEs in exporting high-value products instead of relying solely on raw material exports. She has been involved in an e-commerce platform called Sorotel for over five years, which gives visibility to women-owned businesses, particularly those in the agriculture sector. Sorotel helps these businesses meet export standards such as authorization, permit requirements, export registration, labeling, marketing, and packaging.

A major issue identified is the lack of centralized sources of information on e-commerce and regulations, making it difficult for women entrepreneurs to understand non-tariff barriers. Information gathering can take up to two years for a product to reach the market. There is a need for centralized sources of information to help women better comprehend non-tariff barriers.

Furthermore, there is a call for specific and targeted training sessions for women on e-commerce regulations and non-tariff measures, focusing on sectors like agriculture, fashion, cosmetics, beauty, and catering. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in partnership with the International Trade Centre (ITC), has organized training sessions for women in the agri-food sector in Senegal, showcasing the importance of tailored training initiatives.

Encouraging developments include promoting intra-African trade within the framework of the African Continental Free Trade Area. The Senegalese government, in collaboration with the ITC, is implementing a gender action plan to increase women’s participation in trade. This plan includes providing specific training and tools to overcome non-tariff barriers, both in international and intra-African trade.

Despite opportunities, women entrepreneurs in Africa face cultural obstacles as oral communication and face-to-face interactions are emphasized in business culture. Digital platforms are less popular, with women preferring social media and human communication for business activities.

However, women entrepreneurs still face difficulties in reaching international markets, with challenges in meeting international measures, regulations, and tariff barriers. Additional support is needed in terms of providing information and concrete tools to aid women in business. Access to information is a key issue in promoting women in business and the digital environment. Artificial intelligence (AI) and local language translations are suggested to engage more women in the digital environment by providing necessary information and tools.

In conclusion, challenges faced by women entrepreneurs and SMEs in accessing international markets and trading online include sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, logistics, and incidental costs. Leveraging e-commerce platforms, centralized sources of information, targeted training sessions, and promoting intra-African trade are essential in overcoming these challenges. However, the predominant business culture, non-compliance with international measures, regulations, and tariff barriers continue to hinder women entrepreneurs. More support is needed to provide access to information and concrete tools, enabling the growth of women entrepreneurs in the digital environment.

Simonetta Zarrilli

The analysis explores the challenges and opportunities faced by small firms and women-led businesses in the realm of e-commerce and trade policies. It highlights that while e-commerce provides the opportunity to expand into different markets, it also presents challenges for small firms, particularly in adhering to specific trade regulations. Each market has its own trade requirements and non-tariff measures (NTMs), and this can become problematic when small firms are encouraged to enter new markets via e-commerce without being equipped to adhere to these regulations.

The study also reveals that certain sectors, primarily exported by women-led firms in developing countries, are greatly affected by NTMs. Sectors such as agriculture, food, clothing, shoes, and cosmetics are particularly vulnerable. These industries, which rely heavily on women-led businesses, face significant barriers due to the impact of NTMs.

Data protection and data flow regulations are another potential issue for small e-commerce firms. Different countries have varying regulations in these areas, and this lack of uniformity can create challenges for small businesses operating across borders.

On a positive note, the analysis highlights that large e-commerce platforms offer valuable information services related to trade rules and customs procedures, as well as last-mile services such as payment and product clearance at the border. These services can greatly benefit small enterprises, facilitating their participation in global trade.

However, it is worth noting that women-led firms primarily use social platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp for e-commerce. While this provides ease of access and familiarity, it also means that these firms may miss out on the beneficial services offered by official e-commerce platforms.

Another important finding is that moving customs procedures and forms to electronic transmission can help address issues faced by women when interacting with officials in person. Women often experience improper language and behavior during these interactions, and shifting them online can help mitigate these problems.

The analysis also underscores the significance of online certification and online financing for women traders. E-certification can be beneficial for women engaging in both online and offline trading, while e-financing can provide a solution for women who struggle to access finance through official banking institutions.

Improving internet connectivity and digital literacy are crucial for promoting gender equality in e-commerce. The study highlights the existing gender gap in access to the internet, with costs varying widely. Additionally, rural areas, particularly in Africa, often lack internet coverage, exacerbating the issue.

Furthermore, the analysis emphasizes that trade is not gender-neutral, and there is a need to enhance women’s participation in trading activities. It calls for the recognition of the unique challenges faced by women in e-commerce, particularly how NTMs affect online trade. Women-friendly negotiations and algorithms are essential to ensure gender-responsive trade policies.

The study also advocates for a gender lens approach and highlights the importance of conducting more research, analysis, data collection, and discussions to highlight gender inequities in trade policies and promote gender-responsive policies. The Working Group on Trade and Gender at the World Trade Organization (WTO) is deemed a valuable platform for conversation and sharing experiences.

Ultimately, the analysis suggests that governments should be more mindful of the gender gaps in trade policies and take decisive action to address them. By doing so, they can foster an inclusive and equitable trading environment that supports the growth and empowerment of small firms and women-led businesses.

Ralf Peters

Non-tariff measures in digital trade have a gendered impact, affecting men and women differently. Women traders face significant challenges due to supply-side constraints, such as limited access to resources, credit, and land. They are also more susceptible to abuse and discrimination during import and export processes. This gender disparity is further amplified in lower-income countries and smaller companies, particularly those led by females, as they struggle to comply with trade requirements. Moreover, non-tariff measures affect different industries in varying degrees, with agriculture facing more difficulties than others.

In the context of digital trade, non-tariff measures present both opportunities and obstacles for small traders. Although e-commerce platforms can support small traders by providing a platform for their products, they also introduce additional challenges. The relationship between digital trade and non-tariff measures is complex, with both factors influencing each other.

Transparency plays a crucial role in reducing trade costs associated with non-tariff measures. The availability of information and clear regulations can lead to a reduction in trade costs by up to 25%. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) collects information globally on non-tariff measures through their trade database, known as the “trains” database. However, achieving transparency in these measures remains a challenge, particularly in relation to gender disparities.

Regulatory cooperation is another major challenge in the realm of non-tariff measures. Regulations differ from country to country, even when safety requirements are similar, making trade costly, especially for small traders. This highlights the need for better cooperation and harmonization of regulations to reduce trade barriers and create a more conducive environment for all traders.

There is an urgent need for a better understanding and research on the linkages between non-tariff measures and gender challenges in the digital trade area. This field of study is relatively new, and consensus-building, research, analysis, and technical cooperation are required to address this issue effectively.

Gender gaps in different sectors remain a significant concern. Female participation varies greatly, with sectors that are traditionally male-dominated experiencing minimal female representation. Ralf Peters highlights the shocking gender gaps and acknowledges that progress is being made to address these disparities, albeit slowly.

The Global Trade Helpdesk, an initiative by the World Trade Organization (WTO), UNCTAD, and the International Trade Centre (ITC), provides comprehensive information on trade regulations. This tool aims to support traders, including small traders, by offering access to information and guidance.

Additionally, the non-tariff barriers mechanism aids African women facing export challenges. This mechanism allows women to send an SMS upon encountering difficulties at the border, providing a means of communication and support.

In conclusion, non-tariff measures in digital trade have a gendered impact, with women facing unique challenges such as supply-side constraints, abuse, and discrimination. The relationship between digital trade and non-tariff measures is complex, offering both opportunities and obstacles for small traders. Transparency and regulatory cooperation are vital for reducing trade costs and creating a more inclusive trade environment. There is an urgent need for further research and understanding to address the gender disparities in the digital trade area. Efforts are being made to address gender gaps in various sectors, but progress is slow. The Global Trade Helpdesk and the non-tariff barriers mechanism provide assistance and support to traders, particularly women facing export challenges.

Caitlin Kraft-Buchman

Caitlin Kraft-Buchman, the CEO and founder of Women at the Table, is moderating a panel that aims to explore the gender component in digital trade regulations. This topic has gained recognition and importance following the Bornasari’s declaration, which has opened up the discussion on the gender aspect of digital trade regulations. In addition, UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) has made significant advances in this field, further highlighting its importance.

There is a clear need to address gender obstacles in the digital world and promote digital inclusion for women. The digital gender divide has become a critical concern, with women having less access and participating less in democratic forums in the digital environment. Non-tariff measures in the digital field, such as regulations and policies, impact genders differently, emphasizing the need for specific measures to address these disparities.

AI chatbots have been identified as a potential tool to help SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) with compliance, particularly in dealing with the complexity of the web of compliance. Such a tool could be beneficial for women traders and contribute to the growth of MSMEs (micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises).

In terms of trade regulations in the digital environment, it is important to approach them with a gender lens. Italy’s upcoming presidency of the G7 is expected to introduce plans that incorporate a gender lens in trade regulations, highlighting the increasing importance of gender considerations in these policies.

Digital public infrastructure also needs attention to boost digital inclusion. Women often face obstacles such as a lack of access to devices, high data costs, and a lack of data literacy. Governments can play a role in controlling the cost of data plans and promoting data literacy, which are central to digital access and use.

Applying a gendered lens to improve efficiency and effectiveness in regulations in the digital environment can benefit everyone. By considering the gender aspects in trade regulations, it is possible to enhance the delivery and outcomes of these regulations for all individuals.

Caitlin Kraft-Buchman supports the idea of storytelling and personalization in business, particularly in relation to e-commerce platforms. She sees this as an opportunity for entrepreneurs to make existing platforms more storytelling-friendly or create new ones. Additionally, she anticipates changes in social media platforms within the next 2-4 years.

However, Caitlin disagrees with the concept of not revealing source code in e-commerce, comparing it to the mechanisms used in patent applications and the Dodd-Frank law in the finance sector. She believes that mechanisms used in these sectors can be applicable in e-commerce without giving away a company’s “secret sauce.”

Caitlin also emphasizes the need for impact assessments throughout the design phase and implementation of e-commerce and AI. By understanding the potential impacts of these technologies from the beginning, it is possible to ensure that they are beneficial and aligned with societal goals.

One noteworthy observation is that discussions on e-commerce at the WTO (World Trade Organization) do not sufficiently address the implications of algorithms. While the terminology of algorithms is avoided, there are still regulations being developed around them. This suggests a need for more comprehensive discussions on the implications and regulations surrounding algorithms in the context of e-commerce.

Caitlin also highlights the need to understand gendered algorithmic responses in relation to small women-owned businesses. Faults in algorithmic responses can affect the ratings and credibility of these businesses, making it crucial to consider the gender component in algorithmic systems.

The Italian presidency’s discussions on e-commerce are seen as an opportunity to address these issues and incorporate discussions on algorithms. Italy is expected to take up these important topics during their presidency, especially during ministerial discussions.

In conclusion, Caitlin Kraft-Buchman’s panel on the gender component in digital trade regulations highlights the increasing recognition and importance of addressing gender obstacles and promoting digital inclusion for women. UNCTAD’s advancements in this field further emphasize the need for specific measures and considerations in trade regulations. The use of AI chatbots and the incorporation of a gender lens in trade regulations are identified as potential solutions. Additionally, attention to digital public infrastructure and the understanding of gendered algorithmic responses are crucial for boosting digital inclusion and creating a fair and inclusive digital environment.

H.E. Vincenzo Grassi

The analysis of the provided statements highlights several key points from all speakers. One main argument is that digitalisation and emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence, have the potential to drive economic growth and promote social well-being. These technologies are seen as enablers that can bring about positive change in various sectors. The speakers emphasise the transformative power of digitalisation in enhancing economic growth and fostering inclusivity.

However, the analysis also reveals the existence of a digital divide that needs attention. One aspect of this divide is the gender gap in digital access and skills. Women’s limited participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields has repercussions on their comfort and familiarity with digital technologies. This gender component of the digital divide needs to be addressed to ensure equal access and opportunities for all.

On a positive note, e-commerce and digital payments are seen as tools that can economically empower women. These digital solutions can reduce initial investment costs for small businesses and improve women’s access to financial services. By overcoming obstacles posed by limited access to traditional financial institutions, e-commerce and digital payments contribute to enhancing women’s economic opportunities and financial inclusion.

Italy, through its upcoming G7 presidency, prioritises digital transition and gender empowerment. These two areas are recognised as key priorities by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. Italy, in partnership with the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation and UNDP, actively participates in digital for development initiatives. This commitment sends a strong message about the importance of digitalisation and gender equality in achieving sustainable development goals.

To bridge the digital divide, Italy aims to prioritise digital inclusion policies during its G7 presidency. The focus is on ensuring that all citizens have access to affordable and reliable high-speed internet. Significant investments in digital infrastructure are committed to enhancing connectivity, particularly in underserved regions. Italy’s emphasis on digital inclusion aligns with the goal of reducing inequalities and ensuring that no one is left behind in the digital revolution.

The analysis also highlights the need to address gender bias in digital trade regulation. Ensuring that the benefits of digital commerce are accessible to all can lead to enhanced social empowerment. By promoting inclusivity in digital trade, a more equitable and gender-responsive environment can be created.

In terms of education, digital literacy is considered a crucial factor in narrowing the digital divide. Promoting education, training, and lifelong learning is seen as essential to ensure that individuals, especially women, have the necessary skills and knowledge to participate fully in the digital era.

Advancements in digital technology are seen as a catalyst for promoting economic development in disadvantaged areas. These advancements, coupled with a focus on digital connectivity, are recognised as key factors in promoting economic growth and prosperity in regions facing challenges.

The analysis also emphasises the strategic importance of digital connectivity in the Mediterranean region. Increased digital integration with countries in this region, including the Middle East, is seen as a way to strengthen its resilience and drive growth.

Moreover, the impact of artificial intelligence and new technologies on labour and social affairs is acknowledged as an area that requires careful consideration. It is essential to understand the potential implications and proactively address any challenges that may arise to ensure a fair and inclusive transition to a digital future.

Furthermore, the analysis highlights the gender component in intellectual property protection. Women-led micro-businesses from countries outside major commercial actors often face disadvantages when it comes to protecting their inventions or processes. This observation underscores the need for gender-responsive policies that provide equal protection and support for women entrepreneurs.

Another aspect of gender inequality in trade is the higher incidence of non-tariff measures (NTMs) faced by women in sectors where they tend to run smaller businesses. These measures can create barriers to exporting, leading to challenges for women entrepreneurs. Addressing gender-specific challenges, such as access to information and alternative selling platforms, can help alleviate the obstacles faced by women in the export industry.

Observations from the analysis also highlight the potential of new technologies to resolve gender inequality in the traditional economy. These technologies open up new opportunities and spaces for women to overcome challenges in the traditional economy, leading to positive change.

In conclusion, the analysis reinforces the potential of digitalisation and emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, to drive economic growth, promote inclusivity, and enhance social well-being. The speakers emphasise the need to address the digital divide and the gender gap in digital access and skills. E-commerce, digital payments, and digital inclusion policies are seen as important tools in economically empowering women and bridging the digital divide. Italy’s commitment to digital transition and gender empowerment through its G7 presidency showcases its dedication to these priorities. It is crucial to address gender bias in digital trade regulation and promote digital literacy to ensure equal opportunities for all. Advancements in digital technology and digital connectivity are recognised as key factors in promoting economic development and resilience. The impact of artificial intelligence and new technologies on labour and social affairs should be carefully considered. It is important to provide equal protection for women-led micro-businesses and address gender-specific challenges in the export industry. Overall, the analysis underscores the significance of prioritising digitalisation, gender equality, and inclusive policies to achieve sustainable development goals.

Marlynne Hopper

The e-phyto project, led by the International Plant Protection Convention, has successfully established a global hub for the exchange of e-phyto certificates, benefiting over 125 countries. This achievement is a positive development in trade and phytosanitary measures. However, the project did not adequately address gender mainstreaming, lacking specific activities, objectives, and monitoring to assess gender impact. This omission calls for greater focus on gender inclusivity in projects like e-certification. To address this gap, the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) has developed a gender action plan to integrate gender concerns into project implementation and monitoring. Efforts are being made to include women’s voices in regulatory processes, and new STDF projects are incorporating gender analysis. Marlynne Hopper stresses the need for progress on gender matters in e-commerce and safe trade, while commending Senegal’s work on a gender action plan linked to the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA). The use of specific examples is advocated to strengthen the case for gender inclusion. Although advancements have been made, continued awareness-raising and understanding of gender inclusivity in safe trade are still required.

Audience

Women entrepreneurs in Latin America prefer using social media platforms, rather than e-commerce platforms, to sell their products. This preference stems from the desire to build and maintain control over their brand, which is easier to achieve on social media. Unlike e-commerce platforms, social media allows women entrepreneurs to have ownership and control over their businesses, providing them with the flexibility and personal touch they value.

However, there are challenges for women entrepreneurs in Latin America when it comes to exporting their products through social media and e-commerce platforms. Accessing international markets becomes difficult due to complex trade regulations, international shipping logistics, and language barriers. This poses a negative sentiment towards exporting for women entrepreneurs, limiting their expansion opportunities.

Additionally, concerns arise over the Just-in-Time Inventory (JSI) on e-commerce and its impact on women entrepreneurs. Lack of transparency regarding algorithms used in e-commerce platforms raises concerns about potential discrimination against women. Governments are unable to request disclosure or audit the algorithms, which have been proven to produce biased outcomes. Non-disclosure of source codes and standardized delivery times further disadvantage women entrepreneurs.

In conclusion, women entrepreneurs in Latin America show a preference for social media platforms in selling their products, but they face challenges in exporting and express concerns about the lack of transparency in e-commerce algorithms. The limitations of e-commerce platforms, such as standardized processes and non-disclosure of algorithms, create barriers for women entrepreneurs. Addressing gender inequalities and promoting inclusive practices in the e-commerce industry are crucial for supporting the growth and empowerment of women entrepreneurs.

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Awa Caba

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Caitlin Kraft-Buchman

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H.E. Vincenzo Grassi

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Marlynne Hopper

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Ralf Peters

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Simonetta Zarrilli

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Unleashing Digital Trade and Investment for Sustainable Development (UN ESCAP)

Table of contents

Disclaimer: This is not an official record of the UNCTAD eWeek session. The DiploAI system automatically generates these resources from the audiovisual recording. Resources are presented in their original format, as provided by the AI (e.g. including any spelling mistakes). The accuracy of these resources cannot be guaranteed. The official record of the session can be found on the UNCTAD website.

Full session report

Pimchanok Pitfield

Thailand has shown a strong commitment to developing its digital economy, actively participating in negotiations for e-commerce and digital trade with organisations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). The country has recognised the importance of the digital economy for almost a decade and has been working to establish a regulatory framework that supports and encourages digital trade.

However, there are several challenges that Thailand faces in implementing its digital economy. One major obstacle is the inadequate development of infrastructure, which hinders the progress of the digital economy and leaves it vulnerable to fraud and scams. These fraudulent activities have eroded consumer trust, undermining the potential growth of the digital economy.

Furthermore, Thailand struggles to keep up with the rapidly evolving global regulatory requirements in the digital landscape. Adapting to these changing regulations presents difficulties, limiting the country’s ability to fully benefit from the digital economy.

Micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which are critical components of the Thai economy, also face specific challenges in embracing digitalization. Limited resources, lack of technical expertise, and inadequate access to financing impede the digital transformation of MSMEs and SMEs, hindering their full participation in the digital economy.

Additionally, cross-border electronic crimes have become a pressing issue in Thailand. As digital trade and transactions increase, so do the opportunities for cybercriminals to exploit vulnerabilities. Addressing these cyber threats and ensuring robust cybersecurity measures are in place is crucial for the secure growth of the digital economy.

Despite these challenges, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of the digital economy. Thailand experienced rapid growth in the digital economy and digital trade due to the pandemic. This growth underscores the need to address the financial needs of MSMEs and SMEs, as they play a vital role in driving economic recovery and resilience.

In conclusion, Thailand’s commitment to the development of the digital economy is admirable. However, the country must overcome the challenges it faces in implementing the digital economy. Improving infrastructure, strengthening regulatory frameworks, supporting MSMEs and SMEs in their digitization efforts, and addressing cyber threats are key steps towards establishing a thriving and inclusive digital economy in Thailand.

Gerd Müller

The analysis provides a comprehensive overview of the various aspects related to digital trade and its impact on economic growth, innovation, and reducing inequalities. It starts by acknowledging the transformative potential of digitalisation and AI, recognising them as game-changers in today’s global landscape. Furthermore, it highlights the opportunities brought by digital trade for development, emphasising the need to leverage these opportunities.

However, the analysis also points out the existing problem of unequal access to necessary technology, which acts as a limiting factor to fully harness the potential of digital trade. This discrepancy in technology access creates a digital divide, hindering the participation of certain communities and exacerbating inequalities.

The role of digital infrastructure, competition policies, and data regulations is deemed pivotal in driving economic growth through digital trade. The analysis cites the Asia-Pacific trade report to underscore the importance of these factors. Implementing robust digital infrastructure, fostering fair competition policies, and establishing effective data regulations are key steps towards realising the full potential of digital trade.

In addition, the analysis recognises the significance of policies facilitating e-commerce, business licensing, and investment. It argues that data-driven policies can strategically minimise costs and broaden opportunities for digital trade, unlocking its full potential for sustainable development.

Another important point highlighted in the analysis is the impact of large corporations on empowering small and medium enterprises (SMEs), particularly in the context of digital platforms. The analysis suggests that by providing SMEs with access to digital platforms, large corporations can enable their growth and contribute to a more inclusive digital trade ecosystem.

The need for efficient, safe, and trusted digital trade interoperability and open standards is also emphasised. This highlights the importance of seamless connectivity and interoperability between various digital trade systems, as well as the need for common standards to ensure smooth and secure transactions.

The analysis presents several key stances and recommendations, such as supporting targeted interventions and investments that address specific needs. It emphasises the importance of harmonised regulatory frameworks to ensure regulatory consistency, which can foster a conducive environment for digital trade. Moreover, an integrative approach to policymaking with a clear focus on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is urged, highlighting the need for informed decision-making that aligns with the broader development agenda.

Lastly, the analysis applauds the Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report for providing valuable insights and guidance in navigating the complexities of digital trade.

Overall, the analysis highlights the multifaceted nature of digital trade, encompassing various factors such as technology access, infrastructure, policies, and the role of different stakeholders. It emphasises the need to address these aspects in a holistic manner to unlock the full potential of digital trade for sustainable development.

Rupa Chanda

The Asia-Pacific region is experiencing a surge in trade opportunities in the digital services sector, driven by the dynamism of its economies and the strength of its IT services. This region is home to key engine economies and has seen the rise of successful IT businesses. Moreover, the region benefits from a young and dynamic population that is adept at using digital tools and applications. The engagement of startups and small businesses in both regional and global value chains further amplifies the potential for trade in digital services.

However, it is important to acknowledge the challenges that hinder digital trade in the Asia-Pacific region. These challenges include the digital divide, regulatory fragmentation, and limited access to capital. The region exhibits diversity and differences in digital skills and regulatory capacity, which can complicate trade flows. Additionally, different data protection policies and non-tariff barriers create hurdles for digital trade. The need to develop capital markets for venture capital and startup investments further adds to the challenges faced by aspiring digital traders.

To effectively manage digital trade, a holistic systemic approach is required. This approach entails harmonizing regulations across countries to facilitate trade and ensure fair competition. It also involves supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and marginalized segments of the population, enabling them to participate in digital trade. Furthermore, fostering regional collaboration is crucial for enhancing connectivity and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.

International organizations such as the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) play a crucial role in facilitating digital trade. ESCAP’s efforts in addressing regulatory fragmentation and promoting regional digital trade integration are important. Their work on paperless trade and the development of a regional digital trade integration index helps countries assess their readiness for digital trade. This understanding of challenges and gaps in readiness is vital for formulating effective policies and strategies.

In conclusion, the Asia-Pacific region offers immense trade opportunities in digital services, driven by the dynamism of its economies and the engagement of startups and small businesses. However, challenges such as the digital divide, regulatory fragmentation, and limited access to capital must be addressed. Taking a holistic systemic approach that involves harmonizing regulations, supporting SMEs, and fostering regional collaboration is necessary to effectively manage digital trade. International organizations like ESCAP have a significant role to play in facilitating digital trade and raising countries’ readiness for this new era of commerce.

Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

Digital trade and investment are driving forces of the modern economy, with global exports of digitally deliverable services accounting for close to 60% of the total global services trade, equating to approximately US$4 trillion. The Asia-Pacific region has consistently exceeded a growth rate in digitally deliverable trade of 8% per year for seven years.

However, the full potential of digital trade and investment is yet to be realized as it remains highly concentrated in only six economies, representing 85% of the region’s GDP and digitally deliverable exports. This concentration of benefits hinders the equitable distribution of advantages across a broader spectrum. Furthermore, only a minimal portion of digital foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows are directed towards least developed countries (LDCs), which account for less than 1% of the region’s export of digitally deliverable services.

To fully realize the potential of digital trade and investment, there is a need for active trade and investment policies and international cooperation. The Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report highlights the critical role of these measures. Implementing proactive policies and fostering international collaboration will ensure more inclusive and sustainable economic growth, allowing for the equitable participation of all countries, including LDCs, in the digital economy.

Frank Van Rompaey

The industrial sector in the Asia-Pacific region is currently experiencing a significant transformation as a result of the fourth industrial revolution. This revolution is characterized by the application of advanced digital production technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), big data analytics, cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, and 3D printing. These technologies are revolutionizing the manufacturing process and giving rise to the concept of smart manufacturing, which is expected to have a profound impact on the industrial landscape.

Digital trade and investment are set to play a critical role in driving this industrial transformation in the Asia-Pacific region. Access to digital services, particularly data services, is essential for the export of goods. Real-time customer data can be analyzed to enable cost-effective mass customization of products, effectively blending manufacturing and services. Moreover, digital trade facilitates the procurement and utilization of knowledge-intensive business services online. Therefore, it is evident that digital trade provides the necessary access to digital services, especially data services, which are vital inputs for goods export.

However, it is important to address the digital divide that exists both between and within countries. This divide arises from an uneven distribution of digital investment, resulting in islands of technological leaders and the rest of the economy lagging behind. To bridge this gap, a strong effort is required at both the country level and from the international community to encourage the adoption of smart manufacturing. By addressing this digital divide, we can ensure a more inclusive and sustainable industrial transformation in the Asia-Pacific region.

In terms of industrial development, there is a particular emphasis on building industrial and technological capabilities at the firm level. These capabilities are crucial for the development of the industry, encompassing both digital manufacturing and traditional manufacturing. By focusing on developing these capabilities, the Asia-Pacific region can enhance its competitiveness and drive innovation in the industrial sector.

A key aspect of policy focus is the development of framework conditions, fostering demand, and strengthening skills and research capabilities. It is essential to have the proper infrastructure, regulations, and policy dialogue between the private and public sectors. Additionally, raising awareness about the economic and environmental benefits of technology adoption is important. Targeted support is needed for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to ensure they do not fall behind in this digital transformation. It is also necessary to invest in research institutions to build capabilities and knowledge in digital manufacturing.

In conclusion, the Asia-Pacific region is currently undergoing a significant industrial transformation through the application of advanced digital production technologies. Digital trade and investment are vital drivers of this transformation, enabling access to digital services and data, which are imperative for goods export. To ensure an inclusive transformation, the digital divide between and within countries must be addressed. Emphasizing the development of industrial and technological capabilities at the firm level is crucial for overall industrial development. Finally, policy focus should concentrate on developing framework conditions, fostering demand, and strengthening skills and research capabilities. By addressing these key areas, the Asia-Pacific region can maximize the benefits of the industrial transformation and achieve sustainable economic growth.

Rebeca Grynspan

Digital trade holds enormous promise for countries in the Asia-Pacific region, revolutionizing how businesses operate and grow globally. Through digital trade, small businesses in cities like Manila, Ho Chi Minh City, or Busan can now easily sell their goods and services all over the world. This has brought about a significant transformation in business practices across the region.

However, basic digital literacy skills are insufficient for fully capitalizing on the benefits of digital trade platforms. In addition to technical knowledge, individuals must also possess an understanding of digital marketing, customer service, and international trade regulations. This highlights the importance of continuous skill development and education to maximize the potential of digital trade.

Moreover, a supportive regulatory environment is essential for the advancement of digital trade. It is crucial to establish clear laws that protect online transactions, consumer rights, and combat cybercrime. Such regulations inspire confidence and trust among businesses and consumers, fostering a fair and secure digital trading ecosystem.

Despite substantial growth in the value of digitally deliverable services globally, the share of least developed countries (LDCs) in the Asia-Pacific region has declined. The report reveals that LDCs’ share of global exports of digitally deliverable services has dropped from a quarter of 1% to less than a fifth of 1% over the past decade. This necessitates greater efforts in addressing the disparities in digital trade and ensuring equal growth opportunities for all countries.

Prominent advocate Rebeca Grynspan stresses the urgency of initiatives like the Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report 2023-2024 to tackle these disparities. She emphasizes that maintaining the status quo is a luxury that cannot be afforded and calls for immediate action to bridge the digital trade gap.

Furthermore, Grynspan underscores the significance of inclusivity in digital trade, advocating for the creation of opportunities for everyone, regardless of their location or background. In her view, digital trade should provide equal access and opportunities, promote decent work, reduce inequalities, and advance gender equality. It is crucial to ensure that no one is left behind in the digital economy.

In conclusion, the analysis highlights the immense potential of digital trade in the Asia-Pacific region while addressing the challenges that must be overcome. By prioritizing skill development, establishing supportive regulatory frameworks, and fostering inclusive opportunities, countries can fully reap the benefits of digital trade while ensuring equal participation and growth for all.

Witada Anukoonwattaka

An analysis of digital trade in the Asia-Pacific region reveals a significant disparity between large and small economies. Six major economies dominate digital trade-related exports, accounting for a staggering 85% of the total. Conversely, 11 least developed countries (LDCs) in the region contribute less than 1% to digital trade. This stark contrast highlights the uneven distribution of digital trade opportunities and raises concerns about the exclusion of emerging economies and LDCs from the benefits of digital trade. By focusing on a few large economies, the majority of trade agreements with digital trade provisions are concentrated, exacerbating the challenges faced by emerging economies and LDCs, potentially widening the digital divide and deepening inequality.

To address these imbalances, the analysis proposes that trade agreements and digital trade cooperation should establish mutual recognition of equivalence in standards and procedures. This means ensuring that the rules and regulations governing digital trade are consistent across different countries and economies. It highlights the importance of leveraging existing international standard agreements and the guiding principles provided by the World Trade Organization (WTO) in enhancing consistency in digital trade regulations. This approach would help create a level playing field and promote inclusivity in digital trade.

Furthermore, the study emphasizes the need to focus on micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in trade and investment policies for social inclusiveness. Optimizing digital trade procedures and reducing associated costs can offset the adverse impacts of tax-free removal and other trade barriers. Additionally, policies that remove barriers to cross-border service delivery can have a significant impact on access to essential services such as healthcare and education. By prioritizing MSMEs, trade and investment policies can generate decent work opportunities and reduce inequality.

Overall, the analysis highlights the pressing issue of a digital trade divide in the Asia-Pacific region. Large economies concentrate the majority of digital trade agreements, while smaller economies struggle to participate effectively. Bridging this gap requires a focus on soft infrastructure, such as regulatory environments that lower access costs and reduce compliance burdens. To ensure a more inclusive and equitable digital trade landscape, it is crucial to address the concerns of emerging economies and LDCs, establish consistent rules and regulations, and prioritize the social inclusiveness of MSMEs.

Torbjörn Fredriksson

The analysis highlights several significant aspects of Asia-Pacific’s role in the digital economy and digital trade. It reveals that the region’s share in trade in digitally deliverable services has experienced a notable increase, rising from 19 to 24 percent. Moreover, China emerges as a key player in the digital economy, underscoring its importance in driving growth and innovation within the region.

In considering the opportunities and challenges brought by digital trade, the analysis notes that companies that are unable to effectively participate in this domain risk falling behind. This highlights the pressing need for businesses to adapt and embrace digital technologies to stay competitive in an increasingly digital world. Furthermore, it is mentioned that least developed countries have witnessed a decrease in their import of ICT goods amid the global increase. This decline could indicate the potential difficulties faced by these countries in fully harnessing the benefits of digital trade.

The analysis underscores the crucial role of improving ICT infrastructure and connectivity in enhancing digital trade. It highlights the efforts made by UNCTAD in conducting E-Trade Readiness Assessments, which assess various factors such as ICT infrastructure and connectivity. These assessments help identify areas that require improvement, ultimately paving the way for more effective digital trade.

Another notable observation is the need to empower women in digital trade, an area that is predominantly male-dominated. The analysis highlights the efforts made by UNCTAD in empowering women digital entrepreneurs, emphasizing the importance of gender equality and inclusivity within the digital economy and digital trade sector.

Lastly, the analysis argues for the necessity of a global framework that addresses key aspects such as data, trade, taxation, and competition. Without such a framework, national governments may struggle to successfully implement digital trade policies. This underscores the interdependence and interconnectedness of countries in the digital realm, necessitating collaboration and coordination on a global scale.

In conclusion, the analysis sheds light on the various aspects of Asia-Pacific’s role in the digital economy and digital trade. It underscores the regional growth and influence, as well as the challenges and opportunities that come with digital trade. The importance of improving ICT infrastructure, empowering women, and establishing a global framework is emphasized as essential steps towards maximizing the potential of digital trade and ensuring inclusive growth in the digital economy

Valerie Picard

Policy fragmentation in digital trade is a significant global issue that has resulted in a decrease in trade productivity and an increase in prices for industries worldwide. This impact is particularly severe for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), as it drives up the cost of essential services they rely on.

Research indicates that even a one-point increase in data restrictiveness for a specific country leads to a 7% decrease in trade output, almost a 3% reduction in trade productivity, and a 1.5% increase in prices for downstream industries. These findings demonstrate the negative effects of policy fragmentation in digital trade.

To address these issues, it is recommended to establish digital trade rules at the World Trade Organization (WTO), covering areas such as data flows and non-localization requirements. This would create a level playing field for businesses of all sizes, locations, and sectors to utilize digital technologies for international trade, promoting fair competition and economic growth.

Another crucial factor in maintaining a favorable digital trade environment is the continuation of the Moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions. Governments are urged to avoid new tariff barriers and further fragmentation in the digital economy. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) suggests that taxing the digital economy through Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Value Added Tax (VAT) can offset any revenue losses from foregone customs duties without hindering digital economy development.

Furthermore, the adoption of the UNCTRAL model law and electronic transferable records can facilitate fully paperless digital trading. Countries like Singapore, Papua New Guinea, and Bahrain have already embraced these measures, demonstrating their viability and benefits. This transition would streamline processes, enhance efficiency, and align with responsible production and consumption goals.

In conclusion, addressing policy fragmentation in digital trade is vital to enhance trade productivity and promote fair competition. Establishing digital trade rules at the WTO, maintaining the Moratorium on customs duties, and adopting the UNCTRAL model law are essential steps in achieving a level playing field and enabling paperless digital trading. Coordinated global efforts are necessary to overcome the challenges posed by policy fragmentation and fully unlock the potential of digital trade for economic growth and development.

Audience

The audience is seeking clarification on the structure and content of the annual report. They want to know if subsequent reports are updates to the previous ones or if they introduce new themes and information. The audience’s sentiment is neutral, indicating an open-minded approach to the question. Although supporting facts are not provided, it can be inferred that the audience’s interest stems from a desire to understand the purpose and composition of the annual report. Knowing whether subsequent reports build upon previous ones or introduce new content would help them assess the relevance of the information to their interests or decision-making processes. In conclusion, the audience is genuinely curious and seeks clarification on the structure and content of the annual report.

Ratnakar Adhikari

Digital trade and investment play a crucial role in promoting sustainable development in Least Developed Countries (LDCs). There is a commitment to ensure that no LDC is left behind in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) commitment, with significant progress observed. The number of people online in LDCs has increased from one in five to one in three, indicating improved access to digital platforms. Notably, the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) has also increased its investment in digital trade and investment, with 14 percent of their total investment allocated towards this area.

However, despite these advancements, Asia-Pacific LDCs face various challenges in harnessing the benefits of digital trade and investment. Accessibility and affordability remain major issues, particularly among different demographic groups. To overcome these obstacles, there is a call for the revision of consumer protection policies and cybersecurity policies to ensure a safe and secure digital environment. Additionally, skill development, specifically among marginalized communities, is considered critical to narrow the digital divide and ensure equal participation.

The EIF’s efforts in enhancing digital trade and investment in Asia-Pacific LDCs are commendable. They have implemented projects that have had positive impacts in various countries. For instance, in Bhutan, the EIF supported the implementation of online auctioning and digital payment systems, resulting in significant savings for farmers. In Vanuatu, the EIF established a single window facility, reducing trade costs and carbon emissions. Furthermore, the EIF has collaborated with the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies and UNCTAD to promote investment in LDCs, particularly in the digital sector. They are also actively involved in innovation advancement in countries like Bangladesh, supporting technologies such as 3D printing, artificial intelligence, and blockchain.

The need for more attention on Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in digital trade is highlighted. These enterprises play a crucial role in economic growth and job creation in LDCs. Therefore, it is important to provide them with the necessary support and resources to fully participate in digital trade.

Furthermore, market power in the context of digital trade needs to be addressed. It is essential to ensure fair competition and prevent monopolistic practices that may hinder the growth and inclusivity of digital trade.

In conclusion, digital trade and investment have immense potential to drive sustainable development in LDCs. The progress made in increasing online access and the EIF’s efforts in enhancing digital trade and investment demonstrate positive steps towards this goal. However, challenges such as accessibility, affordability, regulation, and skill development need to be addressed to fully harness the benefits of digital trade. Attention to MSMEs and the need to address market power also contribute to ensuring a more inclusive and equitable digital trade landscape.

Yann Duval

The Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report 2023-2024, which focuses on unleashing digital trade and investment for sustainable development, was launched in a positive manner. This flagship report for the International Steering Committee for the Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment (ISCAP) is produced every two years in collaboration with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). The report explores the potential of digital trade and investment in driving sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region. Notably, it will be made available online, ensuring wider accessibility to its insights and recommendations.

In an effort to promote responsible consumption and production and align with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), another report adopted a paper-saving approach. Instead of providing physical copies of the entire report, only the highlights and recommendations are made available in a physical format. This initiative aims to reduce paper waste and contribute to SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production and SDG 13: Climate Action.

A meeting, likely significant given the participation of heads from ESCAP, UNCTAD, and UNIDO, is expected to take place. However, specific details and the agenda of the meeting were not mentioned. The overall sentiment regarding this meeting is neutral.

The annual thematic report, published biennially, explores various topics related to trade and investment for sustainable development. Past themes have included climate-smart trade and investment, as well as non-tariff measures for sustainable development. The sentiment towards this report is neutral, indicating its value in addressing key challenges and opportunities related to sustainable development.

To provide trade forecasts in the Asia-Pacific region, a separate yearly report called the Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Trends (APTIT) report is published. Although specific details are not provided, this report serves as a valuable tool for policymakers, businesses, and researchers in understanding trade dynamics and trends in the region.

A panel discussion involving representatives from ESCAP, UNCTAD, and UNIDO took place. The objective was to discuss the opportunities and challenges associated with digital trade and its link to sustainable development. This demonstrates the recognition of the significance of digital trade in achieving sustainable development goals. The sentiment towards this discussion is neutral, reflecting a balanced approach.

The report also acknowledges the collaboration between the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and ESCAP in developing a cross-border paperless trade database. This joint effort highlights the importance of enhanced digital infrastructure and standardization in facilitating trade across borders. The sentiment towards this collaboration is positive, reflecting appreciation for the initiative.

Concerns were raised regarding the potential marginalization of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in the digital trade market. These enterprises may face challenges and competition from larger entities. It is essential to give more attention to safeguarding the interests of SMEs and MSMEs and ensuring their meaningful participation in digital trade. Robust competition policies are necessary to support fair competition and prevent the exclusion of smaller businesses.

In conclusion, the launch of the Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report on unleashing digital trade and investment for sustainable development is a positive development. This collaborative effort by ISCAP, UNCTAD, and UNIDO emphasizes the potential of digital trade and investment in driving progress towards the SDGs. The online availability of the report ensures wider accessibility. The focus on sustainable practices, the importance of SMEs and MSMEs, and the collaborative development of digital infrastructure contribute to a comprehensive approach to sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region.

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Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

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Frank Van Rompaey

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Gerd Müller

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Pimchanok Pitfield

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Ratnakar Adhikari

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Rebeca Grynspan

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Rupa Chanda

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Torbjörn Fredriksson

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Valerie Picard

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Witada Anukoonwattaka

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Yann Duval

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The Right to Data for Development (Bluenumber)

Table of contents

Disclaimer: This is not an official record of the UNCTAD eWeek session. The DiploAI system automatically generates these resources from the audiovisual recording. Resources are presented in their original format, as provided by the AI (e.g. including any spelling mistakes). The accuracy of these resources cannot be guaranteed. The official record of the session can be found on the UNCTAD website.

Full session report

Benjamin Kwasi Addom

Multiple stakeholders are collecting the same type of data from farmers, resulting in data duplication and inconsistencies. This issue highlights the need for a country-specific approach to effectively manage agricultural data. To address this, a National Agricultural Data Infrastructure is proposed, which will serve as a centralized system for collecting, storing, and managing agricultural data.

One key aspect of this infrastructure is the involvement of a neutral entity to oversee its management. This neutral entity will gain the trust of both the private and public sectors, ensuring fair and unbiased data management practices. By having a central authority, the duplication of efforts and inconsistencies in data can be avoided, leading to more accurate and reliable information.

To incentivize comprehensive data collection and sharing, a monetizable model is suggested. This model will allow data contributors to receive a share of the revenue generated from the use of their data. This approach not only encourages data sharing but also promotes a more comprehensive understanding of agricultural practices and trends.

Furthermore, the control and sovereignty of agricultural data should be in the hands of individual countries. National data infrastructures offer a solution by providing a centralized system that allows countries to have greater control over their own data. This control enables them to respond quickly to crises and make informed policy decisions.

The ongoing development of an infrastructure in Ghana is a notable example. The infrastructure aims to pull standardized data points from various databases, increasing discoverability and accessibility of information about the country. While datasets from different organizations will still be maintained independently, a portion of the data will feed into the central system, ensuring its integration and overall data integrity.

Regarding the custodian of data, it is suggested that a neutral entity, consisting of both public and private NGO research entities, should be responsible. This approach ensures that data stewardship is carried out impartially, without undue influence from any specific organization or the government.

While the government is expected to play a vital role in driving data stewardship, it is important that it does not become the custodian of the data. Instead, the government should focus on creating policies and regulations that promote data management and protection.

It is crucial to note that individual farmers currently do not have the right to their data for development. This lack of ownership hinders the potential for farmers to utilize their own data effectively. However, there is a growing understanding of the importance of individual data rights for development, and it is an area that requires further exploration and refinement.

In conclusion, the management of agricultural data requires a country-specific approach, including the establishment of a National Agricultural Data Infrastructure. This infrastructure should be overseen by a neutral entity and incorporate a monetizable model to ensure comprehensive data collection and sharing. Countries should have control and sovereignty over their agricultural data, and national data infrastructures provide a means to achieve this. The ongoing development in Ghana serves as an example of how standardized data can be leveraged from various databases. The custodian of data should be a neutral entity, while the government drives the process of data stewardship. Individual farmers currently lack ownership of their data for development, highlighting the need for further attention in this area.

Elea Himmelsbach

Data stewardship plays a vital role in shaping the value derived from data. Data stewards are responsible for making important decisions about data access and usage, considering power imbalances and prioritising the public benefit. Access to data is crucial for driving innovation and technological advancements, particularly with the rise of AI. The role of data stewardship is evolving and needs to be adaptable to changing contexts and technologies.

However, data stewardship goes beyond access and must address power imbalances in data sharing. Collaboration between public and private entities is necessary to ensure the public benefit and avoid potential harms and structural inequalities caused by poor data stewardship.

Governments can be effective data stewards if they recognise the value of data and invest in data stewardship. However, in environments with extractive practices, the relevance and effectiveness of data stewardship may be diminished.

An exemplary case of successful data stewardship is the UK Biobank. They have managed sensitive data without any leaks, providing significant value for public research in health and well-being.

Individuals can also participate as data stewards in a participatory data ecosystem, where they manage their own data. This model promotes sustainability and engagement, but it has limitations and may not be feasible for everyone.

In summary, the role of a data steward is crucial in shaping the value derived from data. They make important decisions about data access and usage, addressing power imbalances and prioritising the public benefit. Effective data stewardship requires collaboration between public and private entities. Governments, like the UK Biobank, can be effective stewards if they invest in data stewardship. Additionally, individuals can participate in a participatory data ecosystem, but limitations exist. Data stewardship must continue to evolve and adapt to navigate the complex landscape of data sharing and usage.

Ruchita Chhabra

The debate centers around whether smallholder farmers should be included in the data economy and be compensated for the data they provide. One argument states that smallholder farmers are essentially giving away their data for free, becoming providers of free data to businesses. This can be seen in the fact that data has been helpful for farmers in terms of agri-inputs, services, finance information, and market linkages. Companies use this data to add value to their own business and derive benefits from it. The sentiment regarding this argument is negative, implying that farmers are disadvantaged in this scenario.

On the other hand, there is an argument that proposes a different perspective. It suggests that smallholder farmers have the potential to become data entrepreneurs and lease their data to other partners, receiving fair compensation for their contributions. One program that supports this viewpoint is Sourcery’s direct-to-grow program, which aims to transform farmers into data entrepreneurs. By integrating trade facilitation with verification and assurance, this program enables farmers not only to provide data but also to control and own it. The sentiment regarding this argument is positive.

Legislation that aims to make supply chains traceable and transparent is also placing pressure on brands. This development is significant because it can benefit farmers. Mounting legislation requires brands to know the origins of their products and demonstrate that they have been produced ethically and sustainably. As a result, brands are using environmental data provided by farmers to avoid hefty levies and appeal to their ethical consumer base. This serves as evidence that farmers’ data can have a real impact and value in the marketplace. The sentiment regarding this argument is positive.

Moreover, the decoupling of data from cotton products has emerged as another topic of discussion. This decoupling allows data to be transmitted through the supply chain and presents an opportunity for farmers to generate an additional source of income. This argument, which supports the decoupling, is viewed positively. Ruchita Chhabra, in particular, supports the idea of data decoupling and sees it as a means to empower farmers by providing them with another source of income. Her stance aligns with the sentiment expressed in this argument.

Despite the potential benefits, certain sectors, such as the textile industry, have been slower to embrace the opportunities provided by data. Many companies in the textile industry still rely on claims based on generic data or life cycle assessments, rather than utilizing more specific local or regional data. This implies that there is still progress to be made in terms of utilizing data effectively within the textile industry. The sentiment surrounding this argument is negative.

Discussions on applying farm data standards at a national level have also begun. While the supporting facts for this argument are minimal, it suggests that there is recognition for the need to establish standards for handling agricultural data. These discussions could potentially lead to greater regulation and protection for farmers’ data. The sentiment regarding this argument is neutral.

Additionally, it is highlighted that farmers currently feel ignored and left out of the data collection process. Ruchita Chhabra believes that making farmers data stewards would give them more visibility and upgrade their status. By becoming data stewards, farmers would have a more active role in the data collection and analysis process, leading to increased recognition and potentially improved outcomes for farmers within the data economy. The sentiment towards this argument is positive.

Lastly, it is noted that farmers do not currently have the right to sell their data, but this is changing. The sentiment regarding this argument is neutral. It suggests that there is a shift happening in terms of farmers’ rights to their data, although it is not an immediate change. Instead, it is a process that is starting to take shape.

In conclusion, the debate surrounding smallholder farmers’ involvement in the data economy and their right to be compensated for their data contributions is complex. One viewpoint argues that farmers are currently providing data for free, while another suggests that they have the potential to become data entrepreneurs and earn fair compensation. Mounting legislation and initiatives like data decoupling present opportunities to empower farmers and provide them with additional income sources. However, certain sectors, such as the textile industry, are lagging behind in effectively utilizing data. The discussions on farm data standards, farmers’ rights to sell their data, and making farmers data stewards further highlight the ongoing evolution in this space. Overall, change is a gradual process that is beginning to take shape, and recognition for farmers’ contributions and rights in the data economy is gaining momentum.

Andrea Gardeazabal Monsalue

The analysis highlights several important points regarding data in crop production and its impact on various stakeholders. It emphasises that a poor data environment can have detrimental effects, including low crop yields, limited financial benefits for farmers, and misuse of data. Without adequate data in crop production, farmers may struggle to achieve optimal yields, leading to lower profits and reduced food production. In addition, the misuse of data by different stakeholders along the value chain is a consequence of a poor data environment, potentially leading to unethical practices or biased decision-making.

However, the analysis also acknowledges the transformative potential of digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, remote sensing, and blockchain in revolutionising how stakeholders interact with agri-food information and services. These technologies have the ability to enhance efficiency, accuracy, and traceability in crop production, enabling better decision-making and ensuring responsible and sustainable practices. It is argued that the principles of responsible and ethical digital transformation should be upheld to ensure the social, ethical, and environmental sustainability of these innovations.

Furthermore, the analysis highlights the importance of recognising crop data as an asset belonging to farmers. It suggests that farmers should have the ability to sell their crop data directly to industry companies or ag-tech firms, thereby adding value to their products and improving their financial access. The argument is made that this data can also be used for credit scoring, enabling farmers to access financial services more easily. By treating crop data as an asset, farmers have greater control over their data and can decide who to share it with, empowering them in the agricultural value chain.

The responsible data systems framework developed by CIMMYT is commended for its contribution to crop production. This framework includes accurate crop monitoring systems and research-based protocols for data collection and analysis. By providing detailed information on management practices, associated costs, dosage requirements, and application practices, this system generates valuable information not only for farmers but also for other sectors that rely on crop data. This framework promotes responsible and transparent data practices, ensuring the efficient use of resources and promoting sustainable agriculture.

The importance of interoperability in agriculture data systems is also highlighted. Interoperability refers to the ability of different systems and platforms to work together effectively and share information seamlessly. It is argued that interoperability is crucial in agriculture data systems as it enables stakeholders to work in a larger ecosystem, facilitating the exchange of information and promoting collaboration. Agriculture systems need to be mapped to the main ontologies to ensure interoperability and enable the efficient exchange and utilisation of data.

Moreover, the analysis stresses the value of publishing historical datasets and making them accessible to all. By making historical data available, it allows for better analysis, insights, and informed decision-making. It also promotes transparency and accountability as historical data can be used to track progress, measure impact, and foster collaboration among stakeholders. The analysis reveals that a historical dataset, collected over the years, is planned to be published and made accessible to the public, indicating a step towards greater data transparency and openness.

CIMMYT’s transition from a traditional approach to data extraction and use towards a more responsible framework is also discussed. The organisation is moving away from the conventional practice of extracting and using data without active involvement or ownership by the farmers. Recognising the importance of data belonging to the farmers, CIMMYT aims to promote a more responsible framework where farmers have greater control and ownership over their data. This shift reflects an increasing emphasis on data stewardship and empowering farmers in the decision-making process.

The analysis also highlights the concept of data as an asset in the agricultural value chain. Farmers’ data can be part of a value chain in terms of data, where its value can change as it moves from owner to owner. Moreover, if additional value processes such as analysis or clustering are performed on the data, it can result in a different level of value, ownership, and potential buyers. Recognising data as an asset emphasizes the economic and strategic significance of data for farmers.

Furthermore, it is noted that CIMMYT is gradually transforming from being solely a data keeper to a data broker, facilitating conversations between different parties involved in crop production. CIMMYT acknowledges that this transition needs to go further, to address data ownership issues and promote a more inclusive and collaborative approach. This change reflects the recognition of the importance of shared responsibility in data management and the need for data ownership to evolve in a way that benefits all stakeholders.

The analysis also mentions the right to data for development, highlighting the transformation process currently underway. This implies that access to data is seen as crucial for driving development, innovation, and partnerships to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. It highlights the recognition that data plays a pivotal role in addressing various global challenges and promoting positive change.

In conclusion, the analysis showcases the various dimensions and perspectives related to data in crop production. It emphasises the need for a responsible data environment, where data is treated as an asset belonging to farmers, and ethical principles guide the use of digital technologies. The responsible data systems framework developed by CIMMYT is praised for its valuable insights and contribution to the agricultural sector. Interoperability, publishing historical datasets, empowering farmers through data ownership, and promoting data stewardship are all crucial aspects highlighted in the analysis. Ultimately, these insights contribute to a broader understanding of the importance of data in agriculture and the potential for responsible and sustainable practices to drive positive outcomes for farmers, stakeholders, and global development.

Puvan Selvanathan

The discussion centers around the rights and value of data in the digital economy, particularly in developing economies. It emphasizes the need for individuals to establish their presence in the digital data landscape and highlights the increasing importance of data in the supply chain. Farmers entering the digital economy should have a say in the rules and regulations governing data ecosystems.

The value of data to a developing country’s economy is emphasized, along with the need to monetize and source additional income through data. Data literacy and understanding are crucial to address information asymmetry and ensure fair participation in the digital economy.

In the agricultural sector, robust data collection and management are essential for optimizing practices, enhancing yields, and increasing sustainability. The decentralization of data benefits both the community and the economy, allowing for traceability and provenance claims.

Concerns are raised about the creation of national data systems and the need for effective cross-border data flow. Data protectionism is cautioned against, and the textile industry is seen as having the potential to lead in data collection and usage.

There is optimism about the outcomes of current conversations surrounding data usage, with a focus on setting farm data standards. The need for different types of data stewards is highlighted, and the redundancy and duplication of data are seen as wasteful.

In conclusion, the discussion emphasizes the importance of data rights and value in the digital economy, the need for data literacy and understanding, and the significance of robust data collection and management. The potential of the textile industry, concerns about national data systems, and the role of data stewards are also discussed.

AG

Andrea Gardeazabal Monsalue

Speech speed

169 words per minute

Speech length

1612 words

Speech time

573 secs

BK

Benjamin Kwasi Addom

Speech speed

161 words per minute

Speech length

1668 words

Speech time

622 secs

EH

Elea Himmelsbach

Speech speed

148 words per minute

Speech length

1314 words

Speech time

532 secs

PS

Puvan Selvanathan

Speech speed

169 words per minute

Speech length

3121 words

Speech time

1111 secs

RC

Ruchita Chhabra

Speech speed

168 words per minute

Speech length

1662 words

Speech time

593 secs

The State of Digital Fragmentation (Digital Policy Alert)

Table of contents

Disclaimer: This is not an official record of the UNCTAD eWeek session. The DiploAI system automatically generates these resources from the audiovisual recording. Resources are presented in their original format, as provided by the AI (e.g. including any spelling mistakes). The accuracy of these resources cannot be guaranteed. The official record of the session can be found on the UNCTAD website.

Full session report

Audience

Digital fragmentation is a pressing concern, with the divide between the US and China being a significant factor. This split limits people’s freedoms and opportunities, and there are concerns of a potential digital Cold War. Corporate-led cross-sector digital ecosystems further add to the problem of fragmentation.

Enforcement of laws and regulations is challenging. Many laws and regulations are individual-centric, focusing on individual rights and protections. However, the damages caused by digital fragmentation are often structural and community-centric, affecting small businesses, drivers, and farmers. This mismatch hampers enforceability.

The special relationship between the EU and the US with regards to the GDPR raises concerns of hypocrisy. Only EU citizens have the right to appeal violations within US systems, creating an imbalance in accountability and protection. This highlights the need for more equitable approaches to data privacy and protection.

The tension between the US and China poses a threat to collective systems. Trade law, on the other hand, is a well-structured and enforceable system that could address digital fragmentation.

Recent trade agreements consider sustainable development, encompassing economic, social, and environmental concerns. Vague formulations like “inclusion” in law-making hinder efforts to address inequalities.

The US’s withdrawal from proposals at the WTO raises concerns about further fragmentation. Alternative regimes by countries like India and Russia can impact fragmentation positively or negatively.

The US’s reluctance to engage in joint initiatives on e-commerce and data governance may be driven by the need to regulate big tech domestically. Implementation of micro-international law at the multilateral level is being questioned.

In conclusion, digital fragmentation stems from various sources including the US-China divide and corporate-led ecosystems. Enforcement challenges and the lack of equitable approaches raise concerns. Trade law and sustainable development provide potential solutions. Ambiguity in law-making and US withdrawal from proposals further complicate the issue. Alternative regimes and domestic regulation play a role. Navigating global cooperation and national interests is necessary to address digital fragmentation.

Andrin Eichin

Digital fragmentation refers to the growing concern in the field of digital policy and regulation. It is prompted by the increasing number of regulatory initiatives in the digital industry, which has historically operated with minimal oversight. In 2020, Digital Policy Alert identified 35 regulatory initiatives, a number that rose to 274 by November 2023. This surge in regulatory practices is considered a normal reaction to a previously unregulated field but has resulted in fragmentation.

The fragmentation occurs due to the development of domestic regulatory practices in different regions, leading to policies that may not effectively communicate or align with fundamental elements. This level and depth of fragmentation pose challenges to cooperation and coordination in the digital sector. The lack of effective communication between different regulatory universes hampers the potential for inspiration and alternative approaches. Seamless functionality and interoperability are hindered when services operate under different regulatory environments.

Standardization on a policy level is seen as a potential solution to address digital fragmentation. Efforts are underway to develop a framework convention within the Council of Europe that promotes regulation in a manner compliant with human rights. This initiative is viewed positively as it aims to harmonize policies and ensure a cohesive approach to digital regulation.

Digital fragmentation can have implications at the technical level, thereby exacerbating potential risks. Policy fragmentation can translate into technical fragmentation, which presents significant challenges to resolve. It is crucial to recognize that policy decisions can result in technical issues that are difficult to address once they arise.

The evolution of digital regulation is an ongoing process. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) serves as a notable example in understanding digital fragmentation. Regulatory practices have learned from the challenges associated with GDPR and are incorporating the need to adapt and learn from those experiences. Moreover, countries outside the EU also reflect on and consider their own regulatory practices, often adopting relevant or effective elements. For instance, Switzerland recently implemented its own data protection law, incorporating aspects similar to the GDPR.

Enforcement of rules becomes easier when there is a larger enforcement group. Regional adoption of regulatory approaches can be highly efficient, especially for smaller countries. However, challenges arise when attempting to enforce rules against services operating in other influential countries, which can impede regulatory compliance.

The growing divide in regulatory universes between the US and China epitomizes the deep division in digital policies. This division not only impacts policies but may also lead to differences in digital services and technical standards. If these divisions persist or intensify, the challenges associated with digital fragmentation will be further exacerbated.

The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) process plays a crucial role in bridging the gap between micro-level experiences and macro-level discussions in the digital field. It facilitates multi-stakeholder engagement, involving academia, civil society, and industry, to enrich discussions and foster collaboration.

Regional initiatives, such as the AI Convention of the Council of Europe and Convention 108+, seek to broaden discussions beyond member states. Recognizing the importance of incremental steps, these initiatives contribute to bridging the gap between micro and macro levels. By adopting regional approaches, they facilitate the exchange of ideas and best practices, thereby promoting a more cohesive digital policy and regulatory framework.

Overall, addressing digital fragmentation requires a multidimensional and polycentric approach to governance in the digital sector. It necessitates innovative approaches, multistakeholder engagement, and technical expertise to understand the implications of digitalization. However, creating a comprehensive framework to tackle the challenges posed by digital fragmentation is a complex task. It requires careful consideration of acceptable practices while acknowledging the difficulties in implementing intricate ideas and anticipating potential obstacles.

Pilar Fajarnes Garces

The analysis provides a comprehensive examination of the issue of fragmentation in the digital economy and data governance. It explores various perspectives, highlighting the negative impacts of geopolitical fragmentation on global challenges and inequality. The speakers argue that the trend towards more inward-looking policies is paradoxical because global challenges have a global reach, and addressing them requires cooperation. They emphasize the interconnected nature of global challenges due to digitalization, which underscores the need for collaborative solutions.

The analysis also focuses on the fragmentation that occurs between those who can engage and participate in the digital economy and those who cannot. This inequality is seen as a significant concern, with substantial disparities and data divides beyond mere connectivity. The fragmentation of regulations is explored, with different influential regions adopting varying approaches to data governance. This divergence of regulations is attributed to countries’ differing policy objectives, such as the United States basing its regulation on the free market economy, China prioritising government control of data, and the European Union being a regulatory leader based on individual rights.

Furthermore, the analysis highlights the global expansion of digital corporations and the lack of global regulation as problematic. It argues that this expansion, without proper regulation, poses challenges to various aspects, including peace, justice, and strong institutions. The analysis emphasises the different policy objectives and institutional capacities of countries in the digital economy and data governance. It acknowledges that each country will have its own approaches, leading to the fragmentation of regulations.

In terms of data governance, the analysis emphasises the need for dialogue and finding common ground for global data governance. It acknowledges the current landscape of regulations as a patchwork of divergent regulations and emphasises the impasse in reaching a consensus. It suggests that data should flow as freely as necessary and possible while addressing risks and ensuring equitable sharing of gains. The multi-dimensional nature of data governance beyond just trade is highlighted, including non-economic dimensions such as privacy and human rights.

The representation of developing countries in data governance is a crucial concern. It argues that existing data governance regimes limit inclusivity and representativeness, especially for developing countries. The need for flexibility in international policies and consideration of the international context in national policies is stressed. The analysis suggests that benefits derived from data should be equally shared through domestic policies aligned with each country’s objectives.

The analysis also explores the consequences of fragmentation in the digital space, particularly in the context of geopolitical fragmentation. It observes that the fragmentation in the digital space reflects the general geopolitical fragmentation, primarily between China and the United States. Environmental sustainable digitalization, trade, and development are identified as dimensions affected by this geopolitical fragmentation.

Another significant aspect discussed is the role of critical minerals in the digital technologies domain. It notes that digital technologies, despite being virtual, rely on materials and minerals. The concept of “critical minerals” is becoming increasingly politically charged and adds further complications to the digital technology sphere.

Observations are made regarding the need to extend data governance beyond just the trade regime, as data has non-economic dimensions. The analysis recommends exploring more encompassing ways of doing things in international law, suggesting the adaptation of approaches rather than directly transposing them from one country to another. Inconsistencies between domestic and foreign policies, such as those of the USA and the European Union, are noted and questioned.

The importance of considering the interdependence of micro and macro perspectives is stressed, as they exist in a complex, interconnected world. It emphasises that a loss of perspective occurs when one considers only a small part without considering its broader context.

The analysis concludes by advocating for a new, innovative approach to global governance that is multilateral, multi-stakeholder, and multi-dimensional. It argues that old ways of thinking may not suffice in the new world with evolving dynamics. The analysis acknowledges the ongoing necessity of regulations and policies from governments but underscores the importance of involving the views of all relevant parties and leveraging different types of expertise to comprehensively address digitalization in development.

Katrin Kuhlmann

The digital economy is undergoing rapid change and innovation, leading countries and regions to design laws that can effectively respond to these developments. This has resulted in fragmentation in the digital economy as different jurisdictions strive to adapt their legal frameworks to the evolving digital landscape. This fragmentation should be seen as a sign of active engagement with the challenges posed by the digital domain rather than a negative aspect.

One argument emphasises the need for adaptable, flexible laws in the digital economy. The constant evolution of digital ecosystems necessitates legal frameworks that can keep pace with technological advancements. The argument highlights that the perfect system designed today can become obsolete tomorrow due to the dynamic nature of the digital world.

However, challenges exist in the current data protection system in Europe, particularly with the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). While the GDPR is designed with human rights in mind, many small businesses find compliance difficult. Additionally, certain countries are indirectly compelled to adopt GDPR to continue doing business with Europe. This highlights the need to balance human rights protection with practicality and ease of implementation for individuals and small businesses.

Different countries have adopted unique approaches to digital policy based on their local contexts and priorities. For example, New Zealand requires consultation with indigenous communities for changes in digital rules, Singapore focuses on regulatory sandboxes, and Australia and Brazil have tailored provisions for small businesses. These examples underscore the importance of considering diverse perspectives and accommodating different needs when designing digital policies.

Furthermore, there are various conceptions of data governance and data localization. Some countries, like the US and China, approach data localization from a national security perspective, while Estonia has established a digital embassy in Luxembourg for neutral data infrastructure. This reflects the evolving understanding of data governance and the need for flexible approaches.

Inclusion, transparency, and flexibility are also highlighted as crucial elements of digital policies. Several trade agreements, such as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and the African Continental Free Trade Area, have provisions for review and revision, allowing for flexibility in adapting to changing digital landscapes. Additionally, specific provisions tailored for small businesses and consultation with affected groups are essential to ensure inclusive policymaking.

The interconnectedness of digital development with other areas, such as energy and climate, should not be overlooked. For instance, the EU-African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) agreement addresses the digital divide and the connection between digital development and energy. This recognition of interdependencies between sectors can lead to more holistic and sustainable approaches to digital development.

Katrin, an advocate for bottom-up approaches in digital policymaking and international trade agreements, emphasises the importance of inclusion and flexibility. She highlights the need for trade agreements to have built-in flexibility provisions, address gaps in digital inclusion, and consider innovative approaches to data governance and digital policies. These principles can serve as models for global policymaking.

While fragmentation and diverse regulation can promote innovation, there is also a concern about dominant market players shaping the dialogue and pushing their models through trade agreements. Thus, international law is seen as a framework that allows countries to tailor their own systems, promoting interoperability, mutual recognition, and alignment.

Another important aspect highlighted is the need for clarity and precision in defining terms related to social dimensions. This ensures better results and avoids vagueness that may hinder a stronger social dimension within digital policies.

The analysis also observes the skepticism of the U.S. administration towards big business governing and shaping the dialogue, indicating a shift in approaches from the previous administration. Additionally, there is a lack of discussions about important issues within the U.S., limiting the engagement of civil society.

There is a call for a micro-international economic law that takes a ground-level and granular approach. This approach can uncover innovations and differences in law that might be overlooked otherwise.

Flexibility in negotiations and policymaking is advocated for, with an emphasis on the need for small businesses to understand the potential impacts of trade negotiations on them. Micro and macro levels should work hand in hand for the effective implementation of digital policies.

Lastly, the analysis highlights the importance of more granular approaches and the inclusion of experiences and models from different countries in the development of digital networks. It suggests the need for solutions that are based on a more detailed understanding of the issues at hand and involve a wider range of stakeholders.

In conclusion, the digital economy is experiencing rapid changes, and countries are designing laws to respond to these developments. Fragmentation in the digital economy should be seen as a positive sign of countries actively engaging with the challenges posed by the digital domain. Adaptable and flexible laws are needed to cope with the evolving digital landscape. However, challenges exist in the current data protection system, different countries have adopted unique approaches to digital policy, and various conceptions of data governance and localization exist. Inclusion, transparency, and flexibility are crucial elements of digital policies. The interconnectedness of digital development with other areas, such as energy and climate, should not be overlooked. Katrin advocates for bottom-up approaches in digital policymaking and trade agreements, highlighting the importance of inclusion and flexibility. While fragmentation and diverse regulation can promote innovation, there is a concern about dominant market players shaping the dialogue. Clarity and precision are needed in defining terms related to social dimensions, and a micro-international economic law is called for. Flexibility in negotiations and policymaking is required, and micro and macro levels should work together for effective implementation. Granular approaches and the inclusion of experiences from different countries are essential in the development of digital networks.

Moderator

The analysis examines various aspects of digital policy implementation and its impact on different regions. It highlights that Europe has a well-defined approach to digital policy, focusing on data protection as a human rights-based approach. However, it notes that this approach is more state-centered than individual-centered. On the other hand, California has adopted certain aspects of Europe’s approach but faces challenges in allowing individuals to assert their data rights. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is discussed as a policy that places a significant compliance burden on small businesses. Despite this, countries generally adopt GDPR to facilitate business with Europe. This raises concerns about the feasibility and impact of GDPR on small businesses.

The analysis also explores the differing perspectives on data governance and localization. Larger economies like the US and China view data governance and localization as matters of national security. Conversely, smaller countries like Estonia have embraced innovative approaches, such as storing data in a “digital embassy” for added security.

The importance of inclusion, flexibility, and consultation in domestic digital laws is emphasized. For instance, New Zealand mandates consultation with indigenous communities when making changes to digital regulations. The analysis also highlights the significance of tailored provisions for small businesses, citing examples from Australia and Brazil. Additionally, regulatory sandboxes in Singapore are seen as promoting innovation and flexibility in compliance.

Furthermore, the analysis acknowledges the interconnectedness of digital policy with other factors, including energy and climate issues. The development of the digital economy is linked to energy consumption, indirectly connecting it to climate change. The analysis recognizes that the challenges related to energy and technological development vary across regions.

The analysis discusses the potential positive and negative aspects of fragmentation in international law. It acknowledges the negative connotations of fragmentation but also views it as constructive disruption that can foster the development of new ideas and solutions. It argues that international law does not always require standardization or harmonization, as countries should have the flexibility to adapt global frameworks to their individual systems.

The emergence of different models from various regions is embraced as a disruptive and innovative phenomenon. Examples such as the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA) and regional effects like the Brussels effect and the California effect are highlighted. These examples suggest that laws or regulations established in dominant regions or corporations can be adopted by others.

Lastly, the analysis appreciates Estonia’s unique approach to data storage, known as the “digital embassy” model. Estonia stores its data in a neutral location, specifically Luxembourg, to ensure neutrality and safeguard against potential cyberattacks. This alternative solution challenges the traditional debate of local versus offshore data storage.

In conclusion, the analysis delves into diverse perspectives on digital policy implementation. It emphasizes the significance of data protection, inclusion, flexibility, and consultation. The interconnected nature of digital policy with other factors and the potential benefits and challenges of fragmentation in international law are explored. The emergence of different models and Estonia’s innovative approach to data storage are acknowledged. Overall, the comprehensive analysis provides valuable insights into the intricacies and dynamics of digital policy across regions.

A

Audience

Speech speed

172 words per minute

Speech length

1278 words

Speech time

446 secs

AE

Andrin Eichin

Speech speed

179 words per minute

Speech length

2472 words

Speech time

829 secs

KK

Katrin Kuhlmann

Speech speed

207 words per minute

Speech length

7627 words

Speech time

2211 secs

M

Moderator

Speech speed

162 words per minute

Speech length

593 words

Speech time

220 secs

PF

Pilar Fajarnes Garces

Speech speed

162 words per minute

Speech length

3783 words

Speech time

1398 secs

Trade in environmentally sound technologies: Opportunities and challenges for developing countries (DCO)

Table of contents

Disclaimer: This is not an official record of the UNCTAD eWeek session. The DiploAI system automatically generates these resources from the audiovisual recording. Resources are presented in their original format, as provided by the AI (e.g. including any spelling mistakes). The accuracy of these resources cannot be guaranteed. The official record of the session can be found on the UNCTAD website.

Full session report

Celine Bacrot

The analysis explores several important topics related to trade facilitation, challenges in handling environmentally sound technologies, accessing green technologies in developing countries, the need for consistency in international trade and climate change discussions, the significance of uniting developing countries for discussions on the intellectual property of green technologies, the neglected industrial policy, the impact of overemphasis on certain professions leading to unemployment and import dependency in developing countries, the issue of promoting strategies that do not align with the needs of developing countries, and the financing requirements for industrial development.

Regarding trade facilitation, it is highlighted that the implementation of digitalisation and technologies such as electronic single windows and trade information portals has had a positive impact on global trade by reducing costs and making trade faster, greener, and more efficient. For instance, the implementation of a single window in Vanuatu resulted in a reduction of 180,000 kilos of CO2, while ASICUDA implementation in Timor-Leste led to a 95 percent decrease in physical trips and printed paper. These examples demonstrate the potential of trade facilitation in enhancing trade in environmentally sound technologies.

However, challenges are also identified within the current trade facilitation ecosystem. Issues arise when customs officers have to treat products from the secular economy due to the lack of appropriate HS code classification. Standardisation issues for new and reused products that are part of a climate-smart strategy are also mentioned. These challenges highlight the need for addressing gaps in trade facilitation for environmentally sound technologies.

In terms of accessing green technologies in developing countries, it is noted that the share of global exports of green technologies from developing countries has significantly decreased. This decline has hindered the trade capacity and independence of developing countries, with intellectual property rights issues further limiting their ability to produce green technologies. Addressing these challenges is crucial for fostering sustainable development and reducing inequalities.

The analysis also calls for governments to ensure consistency between international trade, intellectual property, and climate change discussions. This consistency is essential in promoting sustainable practices and achieving the goals outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Similarly, it is suggested that developing countries should unite for discussions on the intellectual property of green technologies, emphasising the importance of collaborative efforts to address intellectual property rights issues and enhance access to green technologies.

Additionally, the analysis highlights the neglected industrial policy, noting that industrial development has been overshadowed in favour of emerging service sectors. It argues for the urgency of industrial policy as a means to promote economic growth and development. Similarly, the overemphasis on certain professions, such as medicine, in developing countries has led to unemployment and import dependency for essential goods, which needs to be addressed for sustainable and inclusive growth.

Furthermore, the analysis brings attention to the issue of promoting strategies that do not align with the needs of developing countries. Development agencies are criticised for pushing strategies onto developing countries without considering their specific needs and circumstances. To ensure effective development, it is crucial to align strategies with the specific requirements and capacities of each country.

Lastly, it is acknowledged that industrial development requires significant financing and partnerships with development banks are essential to meet these financing needs. This underlines the importance of strong partnerships and collaborations to support industrial development and achieve the SDGs related to industry, innovation, and infrastructure.

In conclusion, the analysis provides insights into various aspects of trade facilitation, challenges in handling environmentally sound technologies, accessing green technologies in developing countries, the need for consistency in international trade and climate change discussions, the importance of uniting developing countries for discussions on intellectual property, the neglected industrial policy, the impact of overemphasis on certain professions in developing countries, the issue of promoting strategies that do not align with the needs of developing countries, and the financing needs for industrial development. These findings highlight the complexities and areas that require attention to foster sustainable development and achieve the SDGs.

Lucia Bakulumpagi-Wamala

The analysis emphasises the importance of electricity in promoting economic development and community growth, especially in rural areas. Uganda has a low electrification rate, particularly in rural regions where it stands at around 10%. This limited access to electricity hinders various essential activities for community development and industry operations.

Furthermore, the analysis highlights the significance of reliable data in project development. Financially modelling projects require relevant and reliable data for effective planning and decision-making. It underscores the crucial role of data reliability in achieving industry innovation and infrastructure goals.

Additionally, the analysis points out the under-utilisation of Africa’s potential in global trade due to infrastructure challenges, particularly in the electricity sector. Despite possessing abundant resources, Africa only accounts for 2% of global trade. Inadequate infrastructure, such as unreliable electricity supply, prevents Africa from fully harnessing its economic potential and engaging in global trade at a level that aligns with its resource endowment.

The evidence presented in the analysis supports these arguments. The low electrification rate in Uganda, especially in rural areas, underscores the urgent need to expand access to electricity for driving economic development and improving the quality of life for communities. The emphasis on data reliability underscores its critical role in ensuring successful project development and implementation. Furthermore, the observation that Africa’s share in global trade is disproportional to its resource abundance highlights the importance of addressing infrastructure issues, including electricity, to unlock Africa’s trade potential.

In conclusion, the analysis highlights the importance of electricity in driving economic development and community growth. It underscores the need to address Uganda’s low electrification rate, particularly in rural areas, and emphasises the crucial role of reliable data in project development. Moreover, it draws attention to the infrastructure challenges, including electricity, that hinder Africa from fully realising its potential in global trade. By addressing these issues, Africa can enhance its economic prospects and contribute more substantially to global trade.

Rao Mehroz Khan

The Digital Cooperation Organization (DCO) is an intergovernmental organisation dedicated to driving the digital economy of its member states. It strives to achieve growth by advancing digital transformation and promoting common interests. The DCO combines both public and private sectors to deliver on its core functions, which include being an information provider, advocate, advisor, and facilitator.

Composed of 15 countries across Asia, Africa, and Europe, the DCO aims to establish a thriving cross-border digital market, a data-driven digital economy, and a responsible digital economy. Its vision is to create a fair opportunity for everyone to prosper in the global digital economy. By bringing member states together, the DCO can unify efforts and pool resources to drive meaningful change in the digital realm.

The organization recognises the potential of developing countries to leapfrog into sustainable development through the adoption of environmental goods and services. However, it acknowledges that hurdles such as limited access to technology, complicated regulatory landscapes, and inadequate financing need to be addressed. To tackle these challenges, the DCO hosts sessions that aim to unravel complexities, highlight opportunities, and discuss overcoming obstacles faced by developing countries in their pursuit of sustainable development.

The DCO also places great emphasis on collaboration and partnerships. It actively supports and includes diverse perspectives, encouraging experts in the field and audience members to share their questions and insights. By fostering an environment of collaboration, the organization believes it can harness the collective wisdom and expertise of its stakeholders to drive positive change.

Recognising the critical role of international trade in promoting sustainable development and combating climate change, the DCO highlights the various challenges and opportunities in the trade environment of clean technologies. Developing countries have the potential to attract investment and set up clean energy industries. The organization provides examples, such as Germany and Italy’s agreement with Tunisia for a hydrogen pipeline powered by Tunisia’s solar power. These collaborations demonstrate how developing countries can make policies that attract investment in clean energy industries, despite potentially lacking self-financing capabilities.

In conclusion, the Digital Cooperation Organization (DCO) is devoted to driving the digital economy, advancing digital transformation, and promoting common interests among its member states. By combining public and private sectors, the DCO strives to establish a thriving cross-border digital market, a data-driven digital economy, and a responsible digital economy. It believes in the potential of developing countries to leapfrog into sustainable development, but acknowledges the challenges they face in accessing technology, navigating regulatory landscapes, and securing financing. Through collaboration and partnerships, the DCO seeks to harness diverse perspectives and expertise to drive positive change. Additionally, the organization recognises the critical role of international trade in promoting sustainable development and highlights the opportunities for developing countries to attract investment in clean energy industries.

Audience

The decline in developing country participation in environmental technologies is a significant concern. This decline can be attributed to a combination of factors, including recent industrial policies and mismatched development strategies. Industrial policies adopted by different countries may have inadvertently contributed to this decline. It is argued that these policies have not prioritised the development of green technologies, resulting in limited opportunities for developing countries to participate in this sector.

Furthermore, there is evidence of a mismatch between development strategies and the actual needs of developing countries. One example highlighted is the case of Cairo in Egypt, where there is an oversupply of doctors but a reliance on importing food. This points to flawed strategies in the past, which have neglected the development of industries and instead focused on emerging services sectors. This neglect of industrial development has limited the economic growth potential of these countries.

The financing capacity for industrial development is also identified as a major challenge. Developing countries often face financial constraints that hinder their ability to invest in industrial development. This lack of financing limits their participation in environmental technologies and hampers their overall economic growth.

Additionally, there is a rising interest in the provision of environmental goods and services in regional trade agreements (RTAs). This indicates a growing recognition of the importance of incorporating sustainable practices in trade policies. Further exploration of this trend is needed to understand the potential benefits and implications of incorporating environmental provisions in RTAs.

In conclusion, the decline in developing country participation in environmental technologies, coupled with the neglect of industrial development and financing challenges, highlights the need for a comprehensive re-evaluation of trade policies, industrial policies and development strategies. There is a pressing need to promote sustainable growth and address climate change by investing in green technologies and supporting the industrial development of developing countries. Incorporating environmental provisions in RTAs could also serve as a catalyst for sustainable development. These insights emphasise the importance of international collaboration and strategic planning to create a more inclusive and sustainable economic future.

Ike Erhabor

Ake Urabo, the president of an e-mobility company, discusses the advancement of e-mobility in East Africa, using Rwanda as a case study. He highlights the progress made in crucial areas such as charging infrastructure, ride-sharing services, and the adoption of electric vehicles. This progress has been facilitated by the support of the Rwandan government, which has implemented measures such as reducing tariffs on electricity and exempting import duties on electric motorcycles and cars.

The Rwandan government also aims to phase out Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles (ICEVs) by 2025, showcasing their commitment to sustainable transportation. Ake Urabo’s discussion serves as a powerful example for the entire East African region.

Furthermore, Ake expresses strong support for the adoption of environmentally sound technology in the e-mobility sector in East Africa. Despite acknowledging the challenges, he focuses on the opportunities that lie ahead. His positive stance aligns with the principles advocated by the East African Community (EAC), which promotes environmentally sound policies.

The EAC has a charter that specifically supports the integration of environmentally friendly practices in the e-mobility sector. Government incentives, such as reduced tariffs and tax exemptions, have also contributed to the growth of e-mobility in the region.

In conclusion, Ake Urabo’s discussion highlights Rwanda’s commendable efforts in e-mobility and the potential for a cleaner and greener future. The progress in charging infrastructure, ride-sharing services, and electric vehicle adoption, along with government support, exemplify the possibilities of sustainable transportation. Ake’s focus on environmentally sound technology emphasizes the importance of collaboration and government incentives in driving the e-mobility sector’s growth in East Africa.

Joachim Monkelbaan

The analysis delves into several key topics, including trade, environmental goods, services, and climate action, with a specific focus on the role of developing countries. One important argument put forth is the need to prioritise trade in environmental goods and services among developing countries. Currently, efforts have been made by organizations such as the OECD and APEC to compile lists of environmental goods, but the interests of developing countries have not been adequately considered in these lists. The analysis suggests that trade in environmental goods and services should be given more importance as it becomes increasingly significant for developing nations.

Another significant point raised in the analysis is that non-tariff barriers present a greater obstacle to trade than tariffs. This is highlighted by the fact that standards, technical regulations, and labelling requirements differ between countries, creating trade barriers. The analysis argues that these non-tariff barriers can be ten times more significant than tariffs as barriers to trade.

The analysis also underscores that trade liberalisation in certain services can contribute to climate action. It specifically mentions the liberalisation of services such as legal, environmental, and maintenance services as being crucial for the successful implementation of wind parks. By promoting the liberalisation of these services, countries can advance climate action initiatives.

Furthermore, the analysis highlights the importance of investment in addressing climate action. It references a report by the World Economic Forum that outlines actions that investment promotion agencies can take to promote climate investment. This suggests that investment plays a significant role in supporting climate action efforts.

In terms of governance and transitioning to a clean energy economy, the analysis argues that experimenting with new methods and fostering networked governance among various actors are essential. As the transition to a clean energy economy is uncertain, the analysis asserts that new approaches need to be explored and tested.

The analysis also touches upon the incorporation of environmental goods and services provisions in Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs). It states that such provisions are increasingly being included in RTAs. Additionally, it notes that developed countries have played a significant role in driving this trend. Examples of this include the Inflation Reduction Act in the United States and various schemes in the European Union.

Moreover, the analysis suggests that developing countries have the potential to participate in RTAs by attracting investment. An example given is Germany and Italy’s agreement with Tunisia for a hydrogen pipeline, implying that developing nations can engage in RTAs by leveraging investment opportunities.

Finally, the analysis suggests that a country’s future competitiveness will depend on its approach to climate change. It references a report by the World Economic Forum on carbon competitiveness, indicating that countries will need to address climate change effectively to stay competitive.

Overall, this analysis highlights the importance of prioritising trade in environmental goods and services among developing countries. It emphasizes the significance of addressing non-tariff barriers, promoting trade liberalisation in certain services, and recognising the role of investment in climate action. The analysis also underscores the necessity of experimentation and networked governance in transitioning to a clean energy economy. Additionally, it mentions the growing inclusion of environmental provisions in RTAs and the responsibility of developed countries in driving this trend. Finally, it suggests that a country’s competitiveness in the future will be contingent on its response to climate change.

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Celine Bacrot

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Ike Erhabor

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Joachim Monkelbaan

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Lucia Bakulumpagi-Wamala

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Rao Mehroz Khan

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803 secs

Trade Doublespeak: Could Digital Trade Non-Discrimination Rules Undermine Competition Policy and Other Forms of Digital Governance? ( Rethink Trade)

Table of contents

Disclaimer: This is not an official record of the UNCTAD eWeek session. The DiploAI system automatically generates these resources from the audiovisual recording. Resources are presented in their original format, as provided by the AI (e.g. including any spelling mistakes). The accuracy of these resources cannot be guaranteed. The official record of the session can be found on the UNCTAD website.

Full session report

Burcu Kilic

The Australian News Media Bargaining Act aims to address the power imbalance between digital platforms, such as Google and Facebook, and news media businesses. It was prompted by concerns that these platforms were benefitting from news content without fair compensation. The act has received positive sentiment for its bold step in tackling this issue.

One of the supporting facts for the need for this act is the accusation that Google and Facebook were “free riding” on media content, meaning they were using it for their own benefit without adequately compensating the news media businesses. Moreover, Google made threats, and Facebook went as far as blocking pages beyond news sites for several days, causing public outrage.

It is important to note that the act is perceived as not discriminatory, as it targets dominant platforms based on their market dominance, rather than their national origin. This distinction is crucial in addressing concerns raised by technology companies about potential violations of trade agreements. The Australian government maintains that the act does not discriminate against particular companies based on nationality.

The implementation of the Australian News Media Bargaining Act has also had a positive effect on other countries. For example, Canada introduced a similar law called the Online News Act, influenced by Australia’s approach to addressing the power imbalance between digital platforms and news media businesses.

However, there has been some negative sentiment surrounding the Australian News Media Bargaining Code. Tech companies have claimed that the code is discriminatory, a sentiment that Australian authorities refute. It is worth noting that the Australian media bargaining code is compatible with the country’s trade commitments, further undermining the allegations of discrimination.

In a broader context, the rules governing technology trade have remained largely unchanged since 2013. This lack of updates has led to negative sentiment as technology has evolved significantly over the years. The need for updated and nuanced rules regarding digital trade is becoming increasingly evident. The U.S. Trade Representative, Katherine Tai, has been diligent in approaching digital trade and acknowledges the necessity for an update.

To conclude, the Australian News Media Bargaining Act has taken a crucial step in addressing the power imbalance between digital platforms and news media businesses. While facing criticism from tech companies, the act is seen as necessary and not discriminatory. It has also inspired other countries, like Canada, to implement similar legislation. However, the overall sentiment suggests the need for updated and nuanced rules governing digital trade, considering the rapid pace of technological advancements.

Lori Wallach

Big pharma and tech platforms strategically leverage trade agreements to limit governments’ policy space and manipulate their actions. For instance, when the World Trade Organization (WTO) was formed, big pharma successfully extended patent monopolies through a free trade agreement, tightening their grip on the pharmaceutical industry. Similarly, big tech platforms mimic big pharma’s tactics by attempting to insert rules into trade agreements that restrict domestic policy options. They influence various negotiations, including those in the WTO on e-commerce, in order to establish binding rules that suit their interests.

US big tech platforms exploit non-discrimination rules for digital products to undermine global competition policies. They argue that policies in countries like Korea, Australia, and Canada, which aim to make platforms pay for news content or regulate app stores, violate these rules and are seen as trade barriers. There are concerns that interpreting and applying these rules may weaken or circumvent antitrust and competition policies.

The concentration of power within big tech companies, such as Apple, Google, Amazon, and Meta, raises significant concerns. These companies dominate multiple digital markets and impose unfair terms and conditions on developers, resulting in higher prices for consumers. Jurisdictions worldwide have acknowledged this issue and conducted studies to better understand the dynamics of the mobile app ecosystem.

While regulations are necessary to address big tech dominance, caution must be exercised when it comes to non-discrimination language in digital trade rules. There are concerns that this language may unintentionally undermine existing and proposed laws aimed at regulating these companies’ power. It is important to note that regulations aim to restore fair competition in the digital market and are not discriminatory towards any specific country or company.

Legislative initiatives in Europe, the UK, and the US focus on regulating the digital market power of big tech companies based on their dominance and abuse of monopoly power. Concerns have been raised about claims of discrimination by big tech companies based on nationality, which are used to oppose regulation and avoid competition. It is crucial to emphasize that regulations aim to restore fair competition and are not discriminatory.

Regarding trade measures, a non-discriminatory approach should require proof that protectionism is the primary motivation behind regulations or policies. This highlights the importance of clear and transparent language in trade agreements to avoid misinterpretation and ensure the burden of proof lies with the country challenging the regulation.

The US has played a constructive and helpful role in the digital trade debate so far, but further engagement and collaboration are necessary to address the complex issues surrounding digital trade globally.

In conclusion, big pharma and tech platforms exploit trade agreements to limit domestic policy options and further their own interests. The concentration of power in big tech companies raises concerns about fair competition. While regulations are necessary, careful consideration is needed to avoid unintended consequences. Clear language in trade agreements and a focus on non-discrimination based on protectionism contribute to a more equitable and transparent global digital trade landscape. The US’s involvement is crucial, but continued efforts and collaboration are essential to address the challenges posed by big tech companies accurately.

Daniel Rangel

Non-discrimination rules for digital products have raised concerns regarding their implications for competition policies and digital governance. These rules encompass a broad range of definitions that include platforms, apps, and digital services, potentially influencing how countries regulate this rapidly evolving sector. The introduction of these rules can be traced back to the US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed in 2004, and they have since been included in over 30 international agreements.

A significant point of contention lies in the interpretation of the non-discrimination rule by the World Trade Organization (WTO). Critics argue that the WTO has adopted a one-sided perspective that focuses on identifying protectionist intent within these rules. This has prompted concerns about the potential for these rules to hinder competition instead of fostering it, undermining the principles of fair market practices and innovation.

One aspect that further complicates the issue is the perceived discriminatory nature of digital competition policies. These policies typically target US-based companies with significant market power and often adopt a size-based approach. The objective behind these policies is to level the playing field in markets dominated by major, influential firms. However, under the broad non-discrimination rules, these competition policies can be seen as discriminatory themselves.

For instance, the News Media Bargaining Code in Australia has garnered criticism for being perceived as discriminatory by the Information Technology and Industry Council. Similar policies in countries like Korea and Canada have also raised concerns in this regard. The tension between the need to regulate digital markets and the potential clash with non-discrimination rules highlights the complexity of governing digital ecosystems.

It is worth noting that the burden of proof lies with the complaining country to establish that protectionism is the primary motivation behind a regulation or policy. If this cannot be proven, the criticism of the regulation should cease. This criterion aims to differentiate legitimate regulatory measures from protectionist practices and maintain a balance between promoting fair competition and respecting international trade principles.

In conclusion, non-discrimination rules for digital products can present challenges for competition policies and digital governance. The broad definitions encompassing platforms, apps, and digital services raise concerns about potential regulatory implications. Furthermore, the interpretation of these rules by the WTO and the perceived discrimination in digital competition policies add complexity to the issue. Striking a balance between fostering innovation, fair competition, and adhering to international trade principles remains a delicate challenge for policymakers in the rapidly evolving digital landscape.

Amanda Lewis

Smaller, profitable tech firms are increasingly concerned about the monopolistic power wielded by major players in the industry, such as Apple, Google, Meta, and Amazon. These giants have the potential to create disadvantages for other companies within the sector, and there is concern that their dominance could override domestic policies due to the influence of international trade agreements. This negative sentiment is driven by the belief that the monopoly power of these big tech platforms could harm competition and innovation.

In contrast, tech firms not affiliated with the major players, such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple (GAFA), support legislative and regulatory efforts aimed at curbing the monopoly power of big tech. Match.com, Epic Games, and Spotify are among the companies advocating for a fair and level playing field. Their positive stance towards regulation reflects their desire to eliminate abusive practices stemming from monopoly power.

Criticism has been directed at the proposed non-discrimination language for the World Trade Organization (WTO) e-commerce negotiations, as it may favor big tech monopolies over others. In several jurisdictions, it has been found that Apple and Google possess parallel monopolies in the mobile app ecosystem. To address these concerns, tech companies have written to President Biden and Ambassador Tai, expressing appreciation for their actions in withdrawing the proposed digital non-discrimination language.

Legislative efforts, such as the Digital Markets Act (DMA) in Europe and the digital markets bill in the UK, are not specifically targeting companies based on their size or nationality. Rather, these regulations focus on addressing evidence of monopoly power and its abuse. The argument is that regulations should be directed towards the dominant position and gatekeeper power of big tech companies, rather than merely their size.

There is also apprehension about big tech companies attempting to evade antitrust regulations and other regulatory efforts by alleging discrimination as US companies. This backdoor approach is seen as an attempt to bypass regulatory measures and avoid necessary scrutiny.

Advocating for a level playing field is crucial. It is believed that a fair and competitive environment will foster innovation and enable the best goods and services to thrive. This stance opposes the notion of incumbent monopoly platforms maintaining their position through market power.

In conclusion, smaller, profitable tech firms express concerns about the monopolistic power of big tech platforms and the potential for international trade agreements to undermine domestic policies. Tech firms outside of GAFA support regulatory efforts to curb big tech’s monopoly power and advocate for fair competition. The proposed non-discrimination language in WTO e-commerce negotiations raises concerns about favoring big tech monopolies. Legislative efforts such as the DMA and digital markets bill aim to address the abuse of monopoly power. There is also apprehension about big tech using claims of discrimination to evade regulatory efforts. It is argued that a level playing field is necessary to encourage innovation and prevent monopoly platforms from maintaining their position through market power.

AL

Amanda Lewis

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BK

Burcu Kilic

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Daniel Rangel

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Lori Wallach

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174 words per minute

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3247 words

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1118 secs

The postal sector: a key partner for sustainable and digital development – discussion around the State of the Postal Sector report (UPU) UPU TradePost Forum

Table of contents

Disclaimer: This is not an official record of the UNCTAD eWeek session. The DiploAI system automatically generates these resources from the audiovisual recording. Resources are presented in their original format, as provided by the AI (e.g. including any spelling mistakes). The accuracy of these resources cannot be guaranteed. The official record of the session can be found on the UNCTAD website.

Full session report

Jose Anson

A robust postal system plays a pivotal role in promoting economic development by facilitating trade and increasing e-commerce penetration. Countries with well-established postal systems demonstrate higher levels of trade facilitation and enjoy increased e-commerce activities. Furthermore, investing in postal infrastructure and fostering innovation within the sector contributes to both economic prosperity and social inclusion.

However, there exist significant disparities in postal development across the world, resulting in economic disadvantages and missed opportunities for inclusive growth. While 49 out of 172 countries analysed in the report exhibit a positive growth trajectory for postal development, there are notable differences between nations. This disparity in postal development hinders economic progress and perpetuates inequalities.

In response to the changing landscape of communication and delivery services, the postal sector must adapt and innovate. Traditional letter volumes are decreasing, leading to a decline in associated postal income. In contrast, parcels, logistics, and digital services are emerging as new frontiers in the industry. To thrive in this evolving environment, postal services must emphasise the need for innovation and adaptability.

To meet these challenges, the adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and a hyper-collaborative approach is recommended. By leveraging generative AI and embracing hyper-collaboration, most operational inefficiencies within the postal sector can be eliminated, and pricing can be optimised. Furthermore, adopting an ecosystemic business model approach will ensure that postal services remain relevant and competitive in the modern marketplace.

In addition to innovation, ensuring postal reliability and reducing postage prices are essential factors for a resilient postal ecosystem. Unfortunately, there has been a decline in end-to-end reliability in international logistics and postal exchanges when compared to the pre-pandemic period. This decrease in reliability has negatively impacted international postal traffic. Furthermore, the doubling of shipping rates for international postal services has exacerbated the situation, causing a significant decrease in such services.

In conclusion, a robust postal system is vital for economic development, trade facilitation, and e-commerce penetration. However, disparities in postal development worldwide pose economic disadvantages and hinder inclusive growth. To navigate the changing landscape, the postal sector must embrace innovation, adopting AI and a hyper-collaborative approach. Ensuring postal reliability and reducing postage prices are also critical to maintain a resilient postal system. Efforts towards addressing these challenges will contribute to a more equitable, adaptable, and future-ready postal ecosystem.

Moderator

The State of the Postal Sector Report highlights the crucial role of the postal sector in economic development and resilience. It emphasizes that better postal systems contribute to an increase of nearly 7% in GDP. Additionally, it states that countries with higher levels of postal services have experienced greater post-pandemic economic recovery. This highlights the economic importance of developing and maintaining efficient postal systems.

However, the report also highlights the disparities in postal development between nations. These disparities can lead to economic disadvantages for countries with underdeveloped postal systems. It suggests that addressing these disparities is essential to ensure fair and equal opportunities for economic growth.

The report argues that investing in postal infrastructure and innovation is crucial for economic prosperity and social inclusion. It explains that the postal sector plays an essential role in driving a wide range of economic activities. By investing in postal infrastructure and innovation, countries can enhance their economic growth potential and promote social inclusion.

Moreover, the report emphasizes the potential of adopting a hyper-collaborative approach involving artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics. It suggests that this approach can greatly improve the efficiency and sustainability of the postal sector. By leveraging AI and data analytics, postal services can optimize pricing, design predictable services, and monetize decarbonization efforts. This highlights the need for technological advancements and collaborations to enhance the postal sector’s capabilities.

Furthermore, the report advocates for better governance of international postal and logistics data to facilitate cross-border e-commerce. It states that improved data governance can eliminate operational inefficiencies, optimize pricing, and ensure more predictable postal services. This highlights the importance of international cooperation and partnerships to streamline and enhance cross-border e-commerce.

In conclusion, the report emphasizes the significance of investing in the postal sector for overall economic prosperity and social inclusion. It highlights the positive impact of efficient postal systems on GDP growth and post-pandemic economic recovery. By addressing disparities in postal development, investing in infrastructure and innovation, and adopting a hyper-collaborative approach involving AI and data analytics, countries can enhance their postal sector’s efficiency, sustainability, and contribution to economic development. Additionally, better governance of international postal and logistics data can facilitate cross-border e-commerce and further boost the sector’s growth.

Audience

The analysis provides a comprehensive overview of the postal sector, highlighting several key points and arguments. One of the main points raised is the need to inform policymakers about the current state of the sector. Currently, policymakers only receive updates during council sessions, indicating a lack of regular communication and awareness about the postal sector. It is argued that there is a need to pass on the message to decision-makers to ensure they are well-informed and can make informed decisions regarding the sector. Another important aspect highlighted in the analysis is the role of data in stimulating economic growth in the postal sector. Unlike other sectors, the postal sector has real-time data, which can be utilized to demonstrate the advantages of investing in postal infrastructure. However, the usage of data is currently limited due to competitive fears among operators. It is suggested that if operators share strategic data, it can help in the development of the sector. Technological solutions, such as algorithms, can be utilized to protect the competitiveness of operators while allowing for the sharing of valuable data. The importance of investment in postal infrastructure is another key argument put forward in the analysis. It is stated that investing in postal infrastructure can stimulate economic growth and also help in reducing inequalities between different regions. This highlights the potential impact that sufficient investment can have on the overall development of the postal sector. Additionally, the analysis also emphasizes the insufficiency of advocacy efforts in the postal sector. It is suggested that current advocacy work does not go far enough, despite the significant impact that post offices have on people’s lives and their potential to stimulate economic development. It is argued that more robust advocacy efforts are needed to raise awareness and garner support for the postal sector. In conclusion, the analysis sheds light on various aspects of the postal sector. Policymakers need to be better informed about the state of the sector, and data plays a crucial role in stimulating economic growth. Furthermore, there is a need for sharing strategic data among operators, while ensuring competitiveness is protected. Investment in postal infrastructure is essential for the sector’s growth, and advocacy efforts need to be strengthened. These findings provide valuable insights into the current state of the postal sector and offer recommendations for its development and improvement.

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Jose Anson

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Moderator

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The Power of Youth Voices to Reshape the Data Economy (Datasphere Initiative)

Table of contents

Disclaimer: This is not an official record of the UNCTAD eWeek session. The DiploAI system automatically generates these resources from the audiovisual recording. Resources are presented in their original format, as provided by the AI (e.g. including any spelling mistakes). The accuracy of these resources cannot be guaranteed. The official record of the session can be found on the UNCTAD website.

Full session report

Audience

The analysis explores the power dynamics surrounding youth and decision-making in both developed and developing economies. It examines the factors that influence youth empowerment and highlights the differences between these two categories of economies.

In the developed world, there is a negative sentiment regarding the level of power held by youth in decision-making processes. Past youth movements, such as the one in ’68, have not translated into sustained influence for young people. Despite previous efforts to amplify the voices of young individuals, there is still a prevailing lack of power in decision-making structures.

In contrast, in developing economies, cultural and traditional norms act as barriers preventing youth from gaining power in decision-making. These norms impose constraints on young individuals’ ability to participate fully in decision-making processes. This observation reflects a negative sentiment towards the cultural and traditional norms that hinder youth empowerment.

However, there is also a positive sentiment when it comes to the potential for youth to gain power in developing economies due to their demographic advantage. The majority of the population in these economies falls into the youth category. With half of the population belonging to this age group, there is considerable potential for the youth to leverage their numbers and demand increased decision-making power.

Moreover, the analysis suggests that developed and developing economies require different strategies for youth and policy-making. This notion reflects a neutral sentiment, acknowledging the need for tailored approaches to address the specific challenges faced by youth in each category of economy. The analysis notes the presence of different demographic structures between developed and developing economies, which may necessitate distinct approaches to youth engagement in decision-making processes.

Overall, the analysis provides insights into the power dynamics surrounding youth and decision-making in developed and developing economies. It highlights the persisting lack of power for youth in the developed world, the influence of cultural and traditional norms hindering youth empowerment in developing economies, and the potential for youth to gain power in such economies due to their demographic advantage. Additionally, the analysis emphasizes the need for tailored strategies to address youth participation in decision-making processes based on the unique characteristics of each economy.

Nicholas Field

Nicholas Field draws attention to the lack of youth representation in various domains, such as data governance, law-making, and data policymaking. He argues that the voices of young people should be included in these processes to ensure a more inclusive and equitable society. Field highlights the underrepresentation of youth in these areas and points out that only 2.6% of parliamentarians worldwide are under 30 years old, emphasising the need for greater youth involvement.

One initiative working towards addressing this issue is the DataSphere Initiative. This initiative focuses on building agile frameworks for responsible data use and aims to unlock the value of data for all individuals. It does this by amplifying voices, conducting research on data challenges and opportunities, and experimenting with data sharing solutions. Field outlines the mission of the DataSphere Initiative, highlighting its goal of creating a more inclusive and accessible data environment.

Field also discusses the evolving relationship between youth and technology. He notes that technological advancements have shaped different generations, such as the introduction of telephone lines a century ago and the advent of colour TVs for parents’ generation. Field expresses excitement about the future of technology and how it will impact today’s youth, who are growing up with smartphones and iPads. He believes that young people have the potential to make significant contributions to innovation and infrastructure.

In addition to advocating for youth involvement, Field emphasises the importance of project continuity. He highlights the negative impact of a lack of continuity in certain projects, which can lead to knowledge and experience loss. Field suggests that maintaining continuity is crucial for preserving valuable expertise and preventing setbacks.

In conclusion, Field’s arguments and observations highlight the underrepresentation of youth in various sectors, including data governance and policy-making. He advocates for their inclusion and active participation, emphasising the role of young people in decision-making processes and ensuring an equitable data economy. The DataSphere Initiative is one initiative aiming to address this issue by creating more accessible data frameworks. Moreover, Field is optimistic about the transformative potential of technology for youth and stresses the importance of project continuity to prevent knowledge loss. Overall, there is a strong call for actively engaging youth in policy discussions and advocating for their involvement and representation to build a more inclusive and innovative society.

Sylvia Poll

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is committed to achieving universal, meaningful connectivity by addressing the global digital divide. Currently, there are 2.6 billion people without internet access, and the ITU aims to bridge this gap and provide equal opportunities for everyone.

The ITU focuses on the inclusion of youth as key stakeholders in decision-making processes and shaping digital policies. Recognizing the significant role young people play in driving innovation and addressing digital challenges, initiatives like Generation Connect directly engage global youth and encourage their meaningful participation in digital change. Programs such as intergenerational dialogues and the Generation Connect Youth and Voice initiative provide platforms for youth to express their views, challenges, and ideas on subjects like cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.

Digital skills are crucial for young people to fully utilize connectivity. While access to devices is important, many individuals, particularly young ones, may lack the necessary skills to effectively navigate the digital world. The ITU emphasizes the need to equip young people with the digital skills required for active participation in the digital economy.

Digital inclusion is a priority for the ITU. Recognizing the specific needs of different groups, including children, young people, older persons, persons with disabilities, women, and girls, the ITU supports initiatives that ensure safe internet use for children, bridge the digital divide for persons with disabilities, and address connectivity issues for women and girls, especially during the ongoing pandemic.

Equitable connectivity for young people is necessary as they are the most digitally inclined generation and can leverage their skills and knowledge to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Statistics from the ITU’s latest Facts and Figures report reveal that approximately 80% of youth aged 15 to 24 are online compared to 65% of other age groups. However, it is essential to note that approximately 20% of global youth have never connected to the internet. Collaborations with organizations like Huawei have resulted in programs such as the Youth Leadership Program, aiming to bridge this gap.

Youth also play a significant role in the development and implementation of data policies. They bring a fresh perspective and have the potential for innovation, leading to new policy ideas. Their awareness of topical issues and advocacy for fairness, equality, and transparency can enhance the effectiveness and equity of data policies.

Inclusion of youth in discussions and developments is crucial for future innovation while ensuring the preservation of human rights. The ITU recognizes the importance of listening to young people and valuing their perspectives. The organization finds value in having young interns who bring a unique perspective to the table. Additionally, the success of decisions and policies should be evaluated from the perspective of young people.

The definition of youth varies across regions and cultures. The UN Youth Envoy’s Office identifies youth as individuals aged 15 to 24, but the ITU acknowledges different definitions, such as the African region’s, which includes individuals up to 35. This highlights the need for flexibility in addressing the specific mandates and requirements of different organizations.

In conclusion, the ITU actively works towards achieving universal, meaningful connectivity by addressing the digital divide and ensuring the inclusion of all individuals, especially youth, in the digital revolution. The organization recognizes the potential of youth and the importance of their participation in decision-making processes, the development of digital skills, and the shaping of data policies. By engaging and empowering young people, the ITU aims to create a more equitable and inclusive digital future for all.

Céliane Pochon

The analysis explores different perspectives on the involvement of young people in digital governance and decision-making processes. Switzerland is highlighted as a country actively promoting the concept of digital self-determination and placing value on inclusive global data governance arrangements. The country has established a national network comprising public administration, universities, industry, and civil society to collaborate on the development of shared approaches to data control.

However, concerns arise regarding the limited input young people have in the development and research process of digital technology, with their involvement often limited only to the final product. This lack of inclusion raises questions about the ability of young people to contribute to the creation of digital tech and potentially excludes their unique perspectives from shaping advancements in this field.

Additionally, the digital divide is highlighted as a challenge, especially for young people in developing countries. With 90% of the world’s youth residing in these regions, the lack of inclusivity in the digital realm can have profound impacts on their future opportunities. Bridging this divide is crucial for ensuring equal access to digital technologies and empowering young people to participate fully in the digital era.

On a positive note, the analysis acknowledges that young people bring valuable contributions to various areas through youth-led solutions. These contributions encompass significant issues such as health and well-being, climate action, and equality. Their digital proficiency, innovation, creativity, and determination to make a meaningful impact make them key stakeholders in shaping the future.

In the context of policy-making and digital governance, it is emphasized that young people must be included and represented at all levels. Switzerland sets an example by hosting an annual Internet Governance Forum where youth are included, and the significance of youth perspectives in policy-making is emphasized by individuals such as Céliane Pochon. Including their voices allows for a broader representation of the population and ensures that decisions made are genuinely inclusive.

Partnerships with youth organizations are identified as a means to enhance the inclusion of young people in policy-making processes. Collaboration between these organizations and governmental bodies can create avenues for meaningful youth involvement and ensure that their perspectives are considered in shaping policies that affect them.

Education and training programs on data governance are advocated as an essential step in preparing young people for future policy-making roles. By introducing these programs in schools and universities, young people can gain the necessary knowledge and skills to contribute effectively to the development and implementation of policies regarding data governance.

Finally, the analysis highlights the importance of including young people’s voices in important discussions, despite their potential lack of expertise or experience. It recognizes the unique perspective that young people can bring to the table and acknowledges the value of their contributions. By fostering a belief in themselves and their ability to contribute, young people can play a vital role in shaping policies and decisions that impact their lives and the lives of others.

In summary, the analysis emphasizes the need for greater inclusion of young people in digital governance and decision-making processes. Switzerland’s active promotion of digital self-determination and inclusive global data governance arrangements sets a positive example. However, there are concerns about limited young people’s involvement in the development of digital tech and the challenges posed by the digital divide, particularly in developing countries. On a positive note, young people’s contributions in various domains, their digital skills and creativity, and their potential to shape the future world are recognized. The analysis underscores the importance of including youth perspectives in policy-making and digital governance, advocating for their representation at all levels. Partnerships with youth organizations and the introduction of education and training programs on data governance are recommended as strategies to enhance youth involvement. Overall, the analysis highlights the necessity of including young people’s voices in important discussions, recognizing their unique perspectives and contributions.

Andrea Palomino Flores

The discussions revolve around the importance of meaningful engagement with young people in decision-making processes. The participants highlight complaints about token participation, where young people feel their involvement is minimal and insignificant. Additionally, personal experiences from youth summits demonstrate the necessity of their engagement. To address these concerns, it is argued that young people should have a role in decision-making, as their perspectives may differ from those of the decision-makers. This diversity in viewpoints can lead to more comprehensive and inclusive outcomes.

To further encourage engagement, member states are encouraged to include young people in their delegations, providing them with mentoring and leadership development opportunities. By involving young people in the decision-making process, member states can benefit from fresh ideas, alternative perspectives, and innovative solutions.

The importance of youth involvement in policy discussions and decision-making is also highlighted in relation to data governance and the data economy. The Datasphere Initiative’s project, “Youth for a Data Future,” aims to enhance youth participation and involvement in data governance through interactive labs. These labs will provide young people with the opportunity to actively contribute to policy discussions surrounding data privacy and mental health. This involvement recognises the potential of youth voices in shaping the data economy, which is important for achieving sustainable development goals related to decent work, economic growth, and reduced inequalities.

The analysis underscores the sentiment of positivity surrounding the importance of meaningful engagement with young people in decision-making processes. It is evident that there is a growing recognition of the value and potential of young people’s involvement in shaping policies and discussions. This extended summary highlights the main points, arguments, and evidence presented, emphasizing the need for meaningful youth engagement and the potential benefits it can bring.

Dunola Oladapo

The analysis highlights the importance of youth engagement and inclusion in policy-making processes, particularly in the areas of data policy-making and digital development. The speakers argue that young people are seeking higher and deeper levels of engagement and inclusion beyond mere consultations. They believe that youth have unique perspectives that can effectively contribute to the development of equitable policies. They also note that advocacy activities can lead to impactful results for youth in policymaking spaces. The youth declaration during the LDC5 in Doha, which called for engagement at all levels of programming, is highlighted as evidence.

However, the analysis acknowledges that young people are disproportionately affected during adverse situations, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Millions of students were unable to connect for school and access necessary information, highlighting the digital inequalities faced by young people. This negative impact on youth’s health, education, and access to information is a significant concern.

Furthermore, the analysis highlights the severe underrepresentation of youth in discussions and decision-making processes. The term ‘youth’ needs to be intentionally used in discussions due to their severe underrepresentation. For instance, there were instances where panels, especially in the digital sphere, would be dominated by men, leaving young voices unheard. The need for greater inclusion of youth in all aspects of policymaking, including digital development and data policy-making, is emphasized to reduce inequalities.

Despite the challenges, the speakers express optimism for a future where the labeling of ‘young delegates’ separately will not be necessary. They look forward to a time when there won’t be a need to label ‘young delegates’ separately, indicating a future where youth will have equal representation and participation in decision-making processes.

The analysis raises important points about the need for youth engagement and inclusion in policymaking, while also highlighting the challenges and inequalities faced by young people. It emphasizes the necessity of intentionally including and actively involving youth in shaping effective and equitable policies.

João Moreno Falcão

The analysis explores various perspectives on the role of youth in digital policymaking and the potential challenges associated with digital technology. The summary provides a comprehensive overview of the main points discussed and their supporting evidence.

One of the key arguments is that youth are keen innovators and digital natives, bringing valuable insights to digital policymaking. They possess a unique perspective that recognizes the integration of the real and digital worlds as interconnected. The analysis highlights the fact that youth are enthusiastic about trying to innovate and address complex problems related to the data universe.

However, there are concerns about addiction to digital technology and over-reliance on online resources, which may lead to insecurity and potential health issues. The increasing prevalence of a surveillance economy is also highlighted as a negative consequence of our digital lives. The analysis indicates that we have become anxious about not constantly checking our phones, reflecting the potential negative impact of excessive digital reliance on our well-being.

Another significant challenge is the potential misuse of data and online surveillance, which poses a threat to privacy. It is stressed that we need to take advantage of the data economy without succumbing to a surveillance economy. This highlights the importance of addressing privacy concerns and ensuring that data is used responsibly and ethically.

On a positive note, digital technology is acknowledged for providing opportunities in areas such as education, skill development, and remote work. It is emphasized that being connected has been crucial in navigating the challenges of a pandemic, and current professional practices were not possible just a few years ago.

The analysis also touches upon the problem of misinformation in the digital age. With the abundance of information online, it is challenging to discern reliable sources. This highlights the need for critical thinking skills and the importance of developing reliable information sources.

The inclusion of youth in the policymaking process is considered essential, with a focus on developing their opportunities and capabilities equally. The analysis highlights the success of youth ambassador initiatives and emphasizes the need for youth participation in decision-making bodies. It also encourages support for youth-driven initiatives and proactive engagement through consultations and focus groups.

In terms of policy development, the analysis underscores the need for inclusivity and diversity when building digital systems and products. Recognizing the different consumption patterns of diverse individuals is essential for understanding emerging trends and promoting digital literacy.

Continuity in projects is identified as vital, as the lack of it can result in a loss of knowledge and experience. The importance of integrating all individuals, particularly in work and learning contexts, is also recognized. The analysis stresses the desire to integrate all workers and learners, highlighting the significance of reducing inequalities and promoting decent work and economic growth.

Overall, the analysis provides a comprehensive examination of the role of youth in digital policymaking, the challenges posed by digital technology, and the importance of inclusivity and continuity in these domains. It emphasizes the need for responsible data usage, critical thinking, and the development of reliable information sources. Additionally, it underscores the value of youth participation and the equitable development of their capabilities, as well as the integration of all individuals in digital initiatives.

Victoria Tianyi Wang

The discussion focused on the importance of youth perspectives in shaping the future of the digital economy. The youth consultation project, conducted in collaboration with the UNCTAD Youth network, played a crucial role in incorporating the views of young people from diverse backgrounds. This project consisted of three stages and aimed to be inclusive, welcoming youths from different backgrounds. The consultation process began in October with the World Investment Forum held in the United Arab Emirates. The results of the consultation are expected to be incorporated into a youth declaration as part of the outcome of the UNCTAD e-week. This declaration will contribute to Agenda 2030, correspond to the United Nations Secretary-General’s (UNSGs) common agenda, and also contribute to next year’s UN Summit of the Future.

One of the main arguments proposed was that youth bring unique characteristics such as innovation, technology, and adaptability to the digital world. Being a generation born with technology, they easily adapt to the digital environment. Additionally, youth were seen as instrumental in driving the digital economy forward due to their ability to bring innovation, technological advancements, and flexibility.

It was acknowledged that the digital economy presents both challenges and opportunities. While the digitalization of various sectors has transformed interactions, consumption, and business operations, there are significant inequalities in accessing the digital economy. Currently, only 20% of the population in the least developed countries have access to the internet, and even after connecting, they often face slower speeds or higher prices. It was argued that digital inclusion should be at the centre of the digital economy to ensure that all individuals, regardless of their background or location, can participate, contribute, and benefit from the digital revolution.

Another important point highlighted was the need for inclusivity in the digital economy. Currently, 2.6 billion people are offline, with youth and other marginalized groups facing greater barriers in the process of digitalization. Digital inclusion was seen as crucial for sustainable development, and it was emphasized that governments have a responsibility to ensure that the policy-making process around digital development is inclusive and sustainable. The active participation of youth in this process was stressed as essential for achieving inclusion and empowerment.

A set of recommendations were proposed to promote digital inclusion and digital development. These included fostering partnerships, facilitating skill development, providing training and capacity-building initiatives, and creating platforms and portals for collaboration. The importance of a multi-stakeholder approach in decision-making and the need for specific programs, such as UNCTAD’s e-commerce digital economy program and E-Trade for Women, were also highlighted as examples of capacity-building initiatives.

The structure of data governance was identified as an area in need of improvement, with suggestions that it should be led by the United Nations. It was argued that the UN, as a neutral actor, can play a crucial role in ensuring inclusivity and taking youth inclusion into account during this process. Furthermore, it was stressed that a holistic and whole-of-government approach is needed in designing digital policies. Policymakers need to focus not only on economic growth but also on creating resilient and inclusive designs to address the challenges and harness the opportunities brought by the digital economy.

In conclusion, the dialogue emphasized the indispensable role of youth perspectives in shaping the future of the digital economy. The consultation project served as a platform for youth to voice their opinions and contribute to the broader global agenda. It was recognized that while the digital economy brings both challenges and opportunities, digital inclusion needs to be prioritized to ensure equal access and benefits for all. The involvement of youth in policy-making processes, partnerships, skill development, and capacity-building initiatives were identified as key elements for promoting inclusivity and sustainability in the digital world. Moreover, the structure of data governance and the design of digital policies should be improved to be more inclusive and holistic. Overall, it was agreed upon that youth can play a vital role in driving a more inclusive and sustainable digital development.

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