Last week, the US-Korea and US-Japan Business Councils joined 170,000 others from across the globe in Las Vegas, Nevada for the 50th Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The technology on display was nothing short of amazing and it is clear that companies from all sectors of the economy are thinking big. “World-changing, live-saving, universal big,” as we are often reminded.
The technology was clearly the headline-grabber, and deservedly so. But behind the scenes, there were important policy discussions taking place and a strong recognition that these emerging technologies will not be able to meet their potential without sound, transparent regulation and best practices. The Councils are encouraged by what we heard, and are looking forward to thoughtful and inclusive discussions with the new Congress and Administration.
For starters, we look forward to continued collaboration between industry and government, both at home and abroad. The National Telecommunications & Information Administration’s multi-stakeholder review process and platforms such as the US-Korea ICT Policy Forum and the Japan Internet Economy Dialogue have given industry an opportunity to share private sector developments with government, and provide expertise that may not otherwise be available. We look forward to continued, meaningful, and regular opportunities to do the same.
We hope this collaborative spirit can transition to the regulatory space, and we echo the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Alan Davidson in his remarks that continued success in the digital economy requires a light-touch regulatory model and recognition that industry needs to lead in certain areas. Similarly, we second Congressman Hurd’s warnings on the potential for innovation to be strangled by over-regulation, and strongly encourage a “do no harm” regulatory approach.
Regulatory coherence and cooperation are needed to create an environment for new technologies to flourish and will be key to enabling the digital economy to deliver benefits on a large scale. Disparate regulations from a series of regulators make compliance extremely difficult and costly, and disproportionately impact small and medium size businesses. Further, as parts of the economy become increasingly digital, regulations increasingly have impact well beyond their intended target. Dialogue between regulators, industry, and various parts of government can help avoid these instances, and we encourage a similar approach with our global partners on capacity building and best practice sharing in the regulatory space.
Similarly, given the potential of the digital economy to drive economic growth and productivity globally, close coordination between the United States and key partners like Japan and Korea is also critical. Recognizing the need for such coordination and smart, updated rules, the Councils remain supportive of the cutting-edge obligations hard-won during years of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. As the new Congress and Administration seek to strengthen the United States position in the global trading system, prohibiting digital customs duties, enabling cross-border data flows, and preventing localization barriers are needed across all sectors to remain competitive in today’s global economy.
On a global scale there are real opportunities for governments to be strategic, in both their leadership and their investment. Setting comprehensive IoT strategies would be a great place to start, as would improving the way that governments themselves adopt technology. Coordination on international standards will help spur innovation and ensure scalability that will be transformational. Moreover, as governments outline future infrastructure projects, the Councils suggest that proper resources are devoted to increasing broadband connectivity, developing 5G networks, and efficiently allocating spectrum.
Getting such policies right is going to take a lot of work, coordination, and collaboration but if CES was any indication of what lies ahead, we have a lot of reasons to be optimistic. We were encouraged by the public bi-partisan recognition that we need smarter regulations that do not constrain American competitiveness and eager to hear that similar support existed for developing a IoT strategy. We also look forward to working to ensure that infrastructure moving forward is ready for the 21st century and that e-commerce and digital trade rules are front and center on the trade agenda.