Remarks by AIT Deputy Director Robert Forden at the GCTF E-Commerce Workshop International Cooperation and Development Fund

(As Prepared for Delivery)

Thank you, Director General Hsueh and Secretary General Shih, and greetings to all of our participants who have traveled from around the region to attend this workshop, as well as to our special guest instructor Michael Panzera from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

It is my great pleasure to be with you this morning and to help open this workshop on e-commerce, held under the auspices of the joint U.S.-Taiwan Global Cooperation and Training Framework, or GCTF.

The GCTF, which was established last year, is a vehicle for the United States and Taiwan to jointly address emerging global and regional challenges by providing training to colleagues and experts from around the Asia-Pacific region. We want to partner with Taiwan and other Asian partners to find solutions to important challenges, including how to promote e-commerce development.

With much of the world’s economic activity shifting to online platforms, and with entirely new industries emerging as a result of the Internet and Internet-connected devices, policymakers everywhere are striving to ensure that frameworks are in place to unleash the potential of e-commerce and the new digital economy.

Today’s workshop is an opportunity to share and discuss best practices in this area. How to harness these technologies that transformed our economies, our societies, and how we live our daily lives in such a way as to ensure that everyone has a chance to succeed. From where we eat and how we get places, to how we connect with our friends and families, almost no aspect of our lives has gone untouched by these technologies in recent years. They have improved the quality of our lives in ways that would have been unimaginable 20, or even 10, years ago. And more change is coming.

Despite the astonishing changes we’ve seen in recent years, these changes are not slowing down. Around the world, each year 200 million more people gain Internet access for the first time, creating new markets and connecting even more creative forces to an innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem that is increasingly global.

The United States has been at the forefront of technologies that have given rise to the new e-commerce landscape. We believe a dynamic and open digital economy strengthens fundamental U.S. values such as democracy and freedom of expression while promoting economic opportunity and efficiency.

These are deep and abiding values we share with our friends and colleagues in Taiwan, and it is no surprise the large role that our two economies have played and will continue to play in shaping the new digital world.

As you may have heard, next week in Washington the United States and Taiwan will be organizing the second annual Digital Economy Forum. This event brings together government and industry from both the United States and Taiwan for a high-level dialogue on the future of the Digital Economy. There will be robust exchanges on enhancing digital trade, the Internet of things, and cybersecurity cooperation, among many other topics.

As Secretary of State Kerry has said, all of us view the Internet as part of a new digital frontier for our economies and our people. But with these unprecedented opportunities come challenges such as ensuring data privacy, enabling e-commerce, strengthening Internet governance, and bridging a digital divide that puts some countries and communities at an ever greater disadvantage in an increasingly competitive world. These are some of the reasons why events like this workshop are so important.

We believe that we should seek to fulfill the Internet’s potential as an engine for sustained economic development across the whole society; as a way to foster entrepreneurship and business creation; and also as a means for empowering even the most traditionally disadvantaged communities to gain equal access to the global marketplace.

Once again, thank you all for coming.