U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Calls for U.S.-China Collaboration to Build Robust, Open Digital Economy

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Press Release
11/22/2016 01:36 PM EST

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker delivered remarks at the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) Collaborative Program on the Digital Economy. As part of the “Reimagined JCCT,” this event brought the U.S. and Chinese business communities together with government officials from both countries for a discussion on a topic that is ripe for collaboration.

Secretary Pritzker’s remarks focused on the need for the public and private sectors to work together to protect and promote the Internet as a platform for innovation, commerce, and economic opportunity. She focused specifically on engagement with the business community that is already taking place in two specific areas: the Internet of Things and technology standards.

In closing, she asked participants in the discussion to be ambitious and far-reaching in their ideas for how the U.S. and China can build a modern economy that is open, innovative, and global.

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Good morning, and welcome to the Department of Commerce. Three years ago, during a tea break at the 2013 JCCT in Beijing, Vice Premier Wang, Ambassador Froman, and I had the radical idea of “reimagining” how the JCCT works.

Today, this 33-year-old dialogue remains a platform to discuss major economic, commercial, and trade issues between our two governments. But we have added two new dimensions that have transformed the JCCT.

First, we now hear directly from our respective business communities about how we can strengthen our business climates.

Second, during the dialogue, we host events that foster greater communication and promote growth opportunities between U.S. and Chinese business leaders.

Each year, we have focused on areas ripe for collaboration. In 2014, we chose travel and tourism. In 2015, we picked healthcare. This year, we are discussing the growing digital economy.

In many respects, the digital economy is the global economy.

A decade ago, less than a fifth of the global population had Internet access. Today, nearly 3.5 billion people are online. And by the end of the decade, five billion people will be connected. Companies like GE and Ford see themselves as software companies, not just traditional manufacturers. And small businesses use the Internet to access new customers and ship their products all over the globe. Digital technologies have quickly become a driving force of global economic competitiveness, entrepreneurship, and innovation in the 21st century.

At the same time, we must acknowledge that new technologies bring new challenges – for businesses, for governments, and for ALL our peoples.  In the United States, we have seen that the free and open Internet – which provides access to information and enables innovation – is essential if our people are to compete and succeed.

One of the big questions facing every policymaker around the world right now is how do we ensure that innovation remains a key driver of human progress and the lifeblood of the global economy? What we know for sure is that any answer requires a free and open Internet.

As the world’s largest economies, the policies we set in the United States and China will have an enormous impact not only on our own peoples but on economic growth all around the world. To get these policies right, we must work together – across the public and private sectors – to not only protect but promote the Internet as a platform for innovation, commerce, and economic opportunity.

Here at the Department of Commerce, we have engaged heavily with the private sector in both of the areas we are discussing this morning: the Internet of Things, and technology standards.

First, the Internet of Things is revolutionizing the way we live – from improving healthcare and reducing highway fatalities to reducing home energy consumption and making industrial processes more efficient.  But these emerging technologies also present new and evolving challenges that we need to tackle, such as providing spectrum and protecting privacy and security.

The Department of Commerce has made headway in tackling these challenges by engaging the business community and other stakeholders.  We have found that their collaboration is essential.

In the coming months, we plan to release a paper outlining areas where the Department of Commerce can partner with the private sector to foster the advancement of Internet of Things technology. This report was drafted in close consultation with the business community and academia, including through requests for comment and a public workshop.  We also recently launched a multistakeholder process to ensure that IoT devices can receive security upgrades.

Second, technology standards play an essential role in enabling new technology to be deployed more rapidly. At the National Institute of Standards and Technology, our approach to developing these standards is both private sector led and industry driven.  For example, NIST engaged with more than 3,000 people from across industry, academia, and government to develop a Cybersecurity Framework, which today is the common language that businesses use when assessing cybersecurity risk management. This type of collaboration between the public and private sectors is only more essential as technology continues to transform the way both our economy and our world at large function.

If the United States and China can work together to find solutions to policy challenges, we will create more jobs and promote new life-changing innovations.

Today, I challenge this group to identify opportunities for U.S.-China collaboration to build a modern economy that is open, innovative, and global.  I encourage you to be ambitious and far-reaching in your discussions.

Thank you for being here today, and for your meaningful contribution to this important bilateral relationship.

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Robert Williams

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