[OECDIT] Future Economy Now
By Angel Gurria
It is a great honor to open the Organisation for EconomicCo-operation and Development (OECD) Ministerial meeting on the Future of theInternet Economy in the Republic of Korea, a country where Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have played a prominent role. Korea has one ofthe highest "broadband connectivity" rates in the world. It holds the second highest share of ICT in value added among OECD countries.
The integration of ICT into virtually all aspects of economic activity and social interaction is creating a digitally-enabled economy that is generating economic growth and prosperity.
The organization helps countries improve their economic performance and social well-being. We do this through the systematic exchange of policy experience, analysis of economic developments and social trends and the generation of common understandings and innovative solutions to address the most pressing national and global challenges.
With a multidisciplinary knowledge base, 25 years of experience working on ICT issues and a growing capability to promote the dialogue between developed and developing countries, the OECD can be an ideal platform to convert the Internet into an effective tool to make the world economy work better.
It is already an amazing social and economic force. There are about 1.3 billion regular users in the world. The Internet Economy accounts for some 20 percent of OECD GDP. Global trade of ICT goods accounted for nearly $2 trillion in 2006.
But because the Internet Economy has become a leading engine of economic growth, we need to secure its future.
First of all, we must measure and assess the real dimensions of this development so that our future policies are based on a solid footing. We need to develop reliable statistical systems to measure its size, social implications and contribution to the economy.
We must also gear our education policies towards the use of the Internet. Ensuring that societies take full advantage of the ICT revolution will require a large majority of citizens to participate in the digital economy.
It is equally essential to support the Internet as a platform for innovation, an open platform that drastically lowers the barriers to creativity, experimentation and collaboration. And we must promote competition and protect and secure this infrastructure. Cyber-crime has become a multi-billion dollar industry; and it will keep growing if we don't stop it.
We must make the Web available to everyone everywhere. We can turn it into an effective instrument to reduce social inequality. There are still 5 billion people that are not connected. Reducing this number is one of our greatest development challenges.
The Internet can also be used to address other global challenges of increasing complexity and urgency such as climate change and energy efficiency.
This is a historic meeting; it can provide a great impulse for our quest of making the Internet a catalyst of human progress.
The adoption of the Seoul Declaration on the Future of the Internet Economy by all countries participating in this meeting will be an important starting point that must be backed-up with decisions, policies and change.
A new, more open and inclusive OECD, can play an important role in making this change happen.
Thank you very much. ``Kahm saham knee dah.''
This is the gist of Mr. Gurria's welcoming speech to be delivered at the opening ceremony of OECD Ministerial Meeting, Tuesday.