August 6, 2021
On August 5 (Thu.), a G20 Digital Ministers' Meeting was held both physically and virtually, and Mr. Sato Kei, Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, participated online. Against the background of ever-accelerating digitalization of the society and economy, the ministers in attendance discussed the importance of promoting digitalization with a view toward a resilient, strong, sustainable, and inclusive recovery and how to address the challenges and risks involved. They then adopted a ministerial declaration.
At the G20 Digital Ministers' Meeting (held under Italian presidency), the overarching theme was "digital transformation as a leverage for resilient, strong, sustainable, and inclusive recovery." Based on this, the ministers discussed the following eleven areas related to the digital economy and digital government.
(1) Digital economy
i. Digital transformation in production for sustainable growth
ii. Leveraging trustworthy artificial intelligence for MSMEs’ inclusiveness and start-ups’ promotion
iii. Measurement, practice and impact of the digital economy
iv. Consumers’ awareness and protection in the global digital economy
v. Child protection and empowerment in the digital environment
vi. Encouraging innovation for smart cities and communities
vii. Connectivity and social inclusion
viii. Data free flow with trust and cross-border data flows
(2) Digital government
ix. Digital tools for public services and their continuity
x. Digital identity
xi. Agile regulation
During the meeting, Parliamentary Vice-Minister Sato mentioned that in order to promote DFFT—a concept that Japan proposed at the G20 Osaka Summit in 2019—it will be important to identify common features of each country's regulations regarding cross-border data transfer and discuss their interoperability. He also expressed Japan's intention to accelerate its efforts toward international rulemaking for developing a digital economy with more countries through WTO e-commerce negotiations and other opportunities.
He also insisted that establishing flexible "agile governance" capable of both addressing risks and creating innovation is an urgent task toward developing a sound digital market. He introduced what Japan has been undertaking toward this, and stated that discussions toward implementation are gaining pace internationally as well.
Based on these discussions, the ministers adopted a Declaration of G20 Digital Ministers that expressed the message that they will continue to work toward promoting digital transformation in order to achieve a resilient, strong, sustainable, and inclusive recovery from COVID-19.
The main points of the Ministerial Declaration are as follows:
(1) Digital economy
- Digital transformation in production for sustainable growth
A commitment to reinforcing actions and policies toward the digitalization of production and to strengthening international cooperation, in order to promote and accelerate a strong, resilient, sustainable and inclusive recovery. A Multi-Stakeholder Forum related to these matters was held in June 2021.
- Leveraging trustworthy artificial intelligence for MSMEs’ inclusiveness and start-ups’ promotion
Reaffirmation of willingness to implement trustworthy artificial intelligence (AI) and to commit to a human-centered approach, as decided at the G20 Osaka Summit in 2019, and welcomed the Policy Examples on How to Enhance the Adoption of AI by MSMEs and Start-ups (Annex 1).
- Measurement, practice and impact of the digital economy
Reaffirmation that the 2020 Roadmap toward a Common Framework for Measuring the Digital Economy agreed on at the G20 Riyadh Summit in 2020 remains a priority, and held an expert workshop in February 2021 to encourage multi-stakeholder dialogs.
- Consumers’ awareness and protection in the global digital economy
Given the steep increase in online transactions and e-commerce during the pandemic, a commitment to taking action to raise awareness, educate, and support consumers with the aim of ensuring consumer protection was made. Also, a Multi-Stakeholder Forum related to these matters was held in May 2021.
- Child protection and empowerment in the digital environment
The use of digital technologies during the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed children to an increased spectrum of risks. In response, child protection was made a priority issue for the first time, and a commitment to child protection and empowerment in the digital environment, informed by the G20 High Level Principles was made (Annex 2).
- Encouraging innovation for smart cities and communities
Proper public procurement can help foster innovation for smart cities. A reaffirmation of engagement by G20 in international efforts was made. The report on Practices of Innovative Public Procurement for Smart Cities and Communities was welcomed.
- Connectivity and social inclusion
The commitment to bridging connectivity gaps was reaffirmed, and encouraging the goal of promoting universal and affordable access to connectivity for all by 2025. A Stakeholder Forum in April 2021 was also held. The G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors' efforts to attract investments in digital infrastructure was also welcomed.
- Data free flow with trust, and cross-border data flows
The opportunities and challenges of data free flow with trust and of cross-border data flows were recognized, as was the work of the OECD on Mapping Commonalities in Regulatory Approaches to Cross-border Data Transfers toward the achievement of DFFT.
(2) Digital government
- Digital tools for public services and their continuity
The importance of the G20 Digital Government Principles developed at the G20 Buenos Aires Summit in 2018 was recognized. The commitment to fostering digital technologies and the necessary competencies while managing the risks was reaffirmed. The G20 Compendium on the use of digital tools, which was developed with the support of the OECD was also welcomed.
- Digital identity
The issue of technological services that guarantee privacy and the protection of personal data was acknowledged. Also, this could enable the needs and expectations of the public and private sectors to be met. The G20 Collection of Digital Identity Practices developed in collaboration with the OECD was also welcomed.
- Agile regulation
Various actions have already been taken to make governance and regulatory approaches more agile, flexible, and resilient, in order to address digitalization and technological innovation were noted. The contribution of the Survey on Agile Regulation across G20 Members, and other related work by international organizations was also recognized.
Division in Charge
Office of International Affairs, Policy Planning and Coordination Division, Commerce and Information Policy Bureau