The Digital Cooperation Organization (DCO) serves as a platform for collaboration, giving countries the chance to share experiences and best practices. Every Member state of the DCO has something to offer other governments around the world, and what unites all Member states is a desire to accelerate digital development and improve digital inclusion.
To achieve our mission, we focus on eight areas where Members States, Observers, and Partners can advance on digital multilateral issues.
- Cross-border data flows to maximize the flow of data with trust across borders through increasing interoperability of the frameworks in order to enable the development of a common DCO market.
- Human capital mobility in ICT & digital to ensure the supply of human capital with adequate digital & ICT skills to drive innovation and provide the foundation for a thriving startup and SME environment.
- Digital taxation alignment to increase opportunities of market participation and align positions to ensure a level playing field for local DCO businesses to succeed in the digital domain.
- Digital capabilities enhancement to accelerate the readiness of the workforce for the future of work and bridge the digital divide through increasing digital literacy and awareness;
- Start-ups, entrepreneurs and SME support to provide a more favourable environment (regulatory, human capital, funding, infrastructure, and R&D and innovation) to launch, grow, and internationalize their businesses.
- Trustworthy emerging technologies to foster ethics and trust in emerging technologies and their human-centricity to increase their adoption.
- R&D and innovation to enhance performance by facilitating access to and participating in a larger, cross-border innovation ecosystem and as well as by aligning approaches to negotiations with and regulations of leading technology companies;
- Digital connectivity infrastructure deployment to bridge the internet connectivity gap and enhance the level of cross-border internet connectivity between DCO member states.
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The economic impact of COVID-19 has pushed over 250 million people back into extreme poverty. Almost half the world’s population still lives on less than $2 per day, and in many parts of the world, inclusive economic growth is still lacking. With unemployment rates increased by COVID-19, the digital economy has the potential to accelerate the creation of new jobs and stimulate entrepreneurialism in innovative subsectors of the economy, in particular e-commerce.
For DCO, growing the digital economy by creating “digital-friendly” investment environments to develop the digital infrastructure and empowering populations with the tools to participate in the digital economy, is key to enabling a thriving cross-border commerce ecosystem.
To boost the digital economy, the DCO focuses specifically on attracting and facilitating the flow of foreign direct investment (FDI), providing support to start-ups, entrepreneurs and SMEs to launch, grow, and internationalize their businesses as well as accelerating digital taxation harmonization to increase opportunities of market participation and ensure a fair level playing field in the digital domain.
The DCO’s motto is Digital Prosperity for All. This focus stems from our belief that digital technology is the driver for socioeconomic welfare in the years to come. Digital transformation is no longer a luxury, but a necessity for growing emerging economies. To grow the digital economy, markets must attract and facilitate the flow of FDI, which brings not only capital but also knowledge, technology, and know-how.
The DCO works in collaboration with governments on new ways to effectively attract ‘Digital FDI’ through the development of enabling policies and measures taking into account the evolution of business models in the private sector. Some of our key projects in this area include:
- DCO Elevate50 program aims to bring 50,000 small and mid-sized businesses from DCO Member States online so they can truly take advantage of the digital economy.
- DCO Startup Passport seeks to break down barriers between countries, making it easier for small businesses from one Member State to expand to another Member State by slashing administrative and financial costs, bureaucratic processes, as well as accelerating corporate registration.
- DCO/WEF Digital FDI program that focuses on identifying methods to increase digital adoption, investment in new digital activities, and investment in digital infrastructure.
Our recent “Bridging the Gap: Where Cooperation is the Key to Inclusive Prosperity” report launched at the 2023 WEF Annual Meeting identified key barriers that need to be overcome to enable a more equitable digital transformation around the world and ensure more societies can take advantage of the burgeoning digital economy, including e-commerce. These include:
- Cost-prohibitive digital access: Our survey revealed that businesses and consumers believe the high cost of digital technologies is the main barrier to participation in the digital economy – 48% of consumers cited cost as the principal reason.
- Insufficient digital skills and training: A lack of digital skills is a huge impediment to digital economic transformation around the world. 60% of people in lower- and middle-income countries lack basic computer skills. Without digitally savvy staff, businesses are unable to take full advantage of the technology available.
- Inadequate support for SMEs and entrepreneurs: Small and medium-sized enterprises struggle much more than larger companies to keep up with the digital transition and to harness its benefits. Most importantly, they need access to funding and training in order to compete with larger companies in the digital sphere.
- Ineffective policymaking: The lack of effective digital policymaking is another fundamental challenge in many countries. While digital transformation strategies may exist, there is often a lack of will and knowledge on the part of government to successfully implement the strategies.
- Outdated digital policies: Ineffective digital public policy and regulation can hinder the development of a country’s digital economy and the indispensable participation of the private sector. Policies and regulations are often outdated and fail to keep pace with technological developments in the digital sphere.
- Limited global or regional data standards: The lack of harmonized standards around data flows and data privacy makes it hard for companies to conduct business across borders. One nation may advocate for the free flow of data, while others may have erected barriers to cross-border data flows.
- Few robust and ambitious cooperation mechanisms: The current state of digital cooperation is inadequate, with conversations about digital transformation often dominated by the developed world and Big Tech, excluding poorer countries, small and medium- sized enterprises, marginalized groups and other stakeholders with limited budgets and expertise.
With the abundance of opportunities, the digital economy brings formidable challenges. In a world where data, ideas, and services flow between borders, it’s increasingly important for all stakeholders to come together and shape a more inclusive vision for a shared digital future.
Only through enhanced global cooperation models will it be possible to address associated challenges, make the most of the opportunities offered, and create a more inclusive and effective digital economy. Specifically, e-commerce offers unprecedented opportunities that touch upon different aspects of the digital economy such as access to technology, access to markets, digital skills, or taxation.
By exchanging regularly on trends and opportunities and collaborating across sectors on issues pertaining to e-commerce, partners at eTrade for all can play a crucial role in building bridges in the digital economy between countries, political groups, and the public and private sectors. They can help build up robust digital ecosystems and act as mediators so that the private sector and governments become partners rather than competitors, and work together to create innovative ways to foster a more inclusive digital economy at the global level.
The DCO launched the Bridging the Gap Report, highlighting the need for greater international, multilateral cooperation to close the digital divide and ensure all nations can benefit from digital economies.
The report draws on an extensive global consultation with experts from multiple sectors and regions, that was undertaken by the DCO as part of its mission to empower member states to develop their digital economies and create prosperity and growth. Included in the report is an in-depth look at the challenges facing nations, especially smaller and developing nations, to gaining equal access to digital economies, and a review of some of the initiatives that are helping to bridge the digital divide.
Bridging The Gap Report was compiled from a diverse range of original research and conversations, including a unique series of five round tables in five cities on five continents – Bangkok, Brussels, Kigali, New York, and Santiago – which brought together over 300 experts in development and technology to discuss the digital divide. A new survey of 1,000 businesses and consumers from 12 countries was conducted, as well as interviews with 37 digital economy experts and knowledge reviews of existing publications.