Talking digital in South Korea

Source: A. (Andrus) Ansip i, published on Wednesday, November 16 2016.

I am now in Seoul to spend a busy two days 'talking digital' in South Korea.

With a lengthy list of engagements ahead, I will be meeting ministers and senior officials involved in digital and technology policy and affairs, as well as industry, startups and centres of innovation.

South Korea and the European Union share many values and priorities.

We also share a long history of cooperation in tech and digital matters, particularly in research. More importantly, we both strongly believe in the global digital economy.

In the last few decades, South Korea has seen huge economic growth and become a high-tech industrialised economy.

Many consider it to have the fastest internet in the world.

Some years ago, South Korea's government recognised ICT as a major growth engine.

Today, with the world's highest level of R&D spending - more than 4% of GDP, according to the OECD - the country is at the global forefront of many cutting-edge technologies. It is also a world leader in e-government services.

It is an enviable performance that reflects South Korea's clear commitment to technology-based economic development.

In Europe, we share that commitment, shown by the Digital Single Market (DSM) vision for our own digital future. As South Korea has done, we want to use digital technology to drive innovation and sustainable growth, to open up opportunities for people and business.

Along with discussing how both sides can best work together to further the global digital market, I will present our plans for a DSM and explain that it means more opportunities for trade, investment, innovation.

Not only for Europe, but globally - also for South Korea. The DSM is about building an open digital society, not about putting up barriers.

We want to encourage companies, European or not, to develop, invest and make the most out of the EU's huge single market of more than 500 million consumers.

I mentioned research before because this will also be a major part of my discussions here. Research plays a key part in our overall relations, hand-in-hand with our wider trading partnership.

EU-Korean cooperation on research and innovation has increased a great deal over the last few years, particularly in ICT: the Internet of Things (IoT), 5G networks, brokerage of mobile cloud services, satellite navigation, just to name a few.

Earlier this year, we set up a scheme with South Korea's Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning that secured a funding to co-finance projects.

The result? Three projects in 5G convergence, IoT and cloud computing.

International cooperation like this is fundamental to the success of the global digital economy. There is a simple reason: the digital world does not recognise borders.

But I feel we could be even more ambitious - and I will be suggesting this during my meetings in the coming days.

We could do more together, for example, in satellite navigation, nano-electronics, materials modelling, innovation medicine and medical equipment. We can learn more from each other, create more opportunities for startups, and work together on standardisation and interoperability of e-government services.

I have no doubt that the emerging digital economy will have an increasingly profound impact on our societies as the years pass and science advances.

In Europe, we are preparing for this tech-based future with the DSM.

It deals with issues specific to Europe, but also recognises that there are others which require a coordinated global response.

Net neutrality, the open internet, data protection, privacy and cybersecurity, internet governance: these areas affect the world's entire digital community.

We should make sure not to miss out on the many business and employment opportunities that the internet, new technologies and digitised industry will bring to us all. Working together is the best way to do that.

It is the main objective of my South Korea visit.

Another blog soon.