The 10th Anniversary of the U.S.-Japan Internet Economy Dialogue: Reflections and Opportunities

AT&T is thrilled to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the U.S.-Japan Policy Cooperation Dialogue on Internet Economy. This initiative has already achieved so much and will be even more important as it enters its second decade.

The Dialogue, launched in 2010 with participation of the public and private sectors as well as academia, advances the far-reaching recommendations in the Internet Economy White Paper that the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) released in 2009. These recommendations aimed to identify tangible opportunities for U.S.-Japan cooperation and in a joint statement released that year, Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) and the ACCJ called for the two government to work together “with a near-term focus on a number of key initiatives aimed at solving business environment problems that impede trade and investment between both countries and restrict their competitiveness.”

When the Dialogue began, the scope and hopes of the meetings were considered very ambitious. However, progress has exceeded expectations. The internet economy in both countries has grown significantly. According to The Boston Consulting Group report on The Internet Economy in the G-20, the internet economy in Japan, from 2010 to 2016 grew by about 43% to $110 billion and by close to 47% to $320 billion in the US. Internet technologies have helped transform many tech and non-tech industries so much that depending on the definition, estimates of the size of the digital economy range from 4.5 to 15.5% of world GDP. With this percentage set to grow, the importance of international cooperation on digital economy matters is now widely recognized.

The Dialogue has fostered a community of interest and added a critical human component to the business of technology between Japan and the U.S. It has helped address issues and deepen bilateral cooperation in areas ranging from securing an open internet and promoting internet utilization, to covering issues such as cybersecurity, cross-border data flows, consumer protection, data privacy protection, internet governance and digital government.

The impact of the Dialogue has been notable in part because it has focused on common interests. Japan and US business communities convene in a joint industry-government session before every Dialogue and have offered policy recommendations through Joint Statements. With that impetus, business relationships have grown, shared interests have been recognized, and even trade agreements between the countries have included industry-led digital trade dimensions.

The second decade of the Dialogue comes at a time when the pace of technological advancement makes cooperation more important than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the world to rapidly change the ways we live and work. Effective digital transformation in education, healthcare, fintech and other sectors will be crucial to realizing the post-pandemic “new normal.” 

Public-private cooperation remains paramount in areas ranging from the free flow of data to ensuring that emerging technologies – including artificial intelligence, machine learning, quantum computing, machine-to-machine and advanced mobile computing – are safe, human-centric and well-governed. To that end the principles highlighted in its earliest days – Transparency, Simplicity, Fairness, Consistency and Global Harmonization – which has now evolved to emphasize Interoperability, have proven constructive and durable.

AT&T expects the Dialogue to play an important role in its second decade by helping society benefit from technological advances. We welcome the 11th Dialogue on September 16 and 17, 2020, and applaud the members of the government, business and academic communities who are continually working to make them successful!

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