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12

MAY 2016

|

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

Commerce Department

Dispatches Digital

Attachés

T

he Department of Commerce

is piloting a network of “digital

attachés” to promote digital market

access around the world. Six Foreign

Commercial Service officers assigned to

ASEAN, Brazil, China, Japan, India and

the European Union will be designated as

digital trade officers to help U.S. compa-

nies increase exports, access the global

online marketplace and navigate digital

economy challenges.

The digital attachés will amplify

current FCS work helping American

businesses navigate complex foreign

regulations and requirements concerning

e-commerce and international data trans-

fers and tackle digital market barriers.

In announcing the program, U.S.

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

said: “These officers will enhance efforts

to advance commercial diplomacy, and

they will work to ensure that U.S. compa-

nies can participate in the global digital

economy and reach markets worldwide.”

According to the Department of Com- merce, the value of U.S. digital exports in

2014 totaled $400 billion.

—Shannon Mizzi, Editorial Assistant

Global Connect Initiative

Aims to Close the Digital

Divide

O

n April 14, World Bank President

Jim Kim and Secretary of State John

F. Kerry hosted a conference at the World Bank in Washington, D.C., to discuss steps to advance the State Department’s new Global Connect initiative.

Launched in September 2015, Global

Connect seeks to bring 1.5 billion people

around the world online by 2020 and

establish the idea that Internet access is

critical for economic development.

“The Internet is not a luxury, but a

necessity,” Secretary of State John F. Kerry told international finance ministers from 27 countries, technology and nongovern-

mental organization executives, heads

of multilateral development banks and

others.

“When we talk about infrastructure

today, we have to include the Internet,

right alongside roads and ports and

bridges and dams and airports and the

power grid.”

Kerry noted that Global Connect is the international equivalent of Franklin Roo- sevelt’s electrification program 80 years ago, when there was “a conscious effort

by the government to say we are going to

connect Americans to electricity; we are

going to change life.”

“For every 10-percent increase in

Broadband access, a developing coun-

try can see up to a 2-percent increase in

Gross Domestic Product,” the Secretary

stated, citing a the World Bank’s 2016 World Development Report.

On launching the new initiative last

fall, Under Secretary of State for Eco-

nomic Growth, Energy and the Environ-

ment Catherine A. Novelli, a former vice

president of Worldwide Government

Affairs at Apple Computer, stated that U.S.

development agencies would prioritize

Internet access in their work and partner

with other governments as well as private

industry to come up with innovative solu-

tions and country strategies.

Currently, nearly three dozen coun-

tries support 65 initiatives that promote

connectivity and access to affordable

broadband.

World Bank President Kim noted in

his address that Global Connect will be

financed through government loans,

public-private partnerships, fair taxa-

tion, structural efficiencies and financial

incentives in the affected countries.

—Ken Fanelli, Publications Specialist

Are Embassies

Still Relevant?

A

ccording to the Lowy Institute’s

new Global Diplomacy Index (see Site of the Month on p. 16), the world’s

42 most powerful countries have 6,000

TALKING POINTS

Secretary of State John F. Kerry speaks on the Global Connect initiative from the World

Bank Executive Board Room on April 14.

U.S.DEPARTMENTOFSTATE