Meeting of the OSCE Asian Contact Group - 15 June 2018
Discussion on Economic Connectivity – Financial Technology Innovation: challenges of cyber security and opportunities for SDGs
Statement by Ambassador Dr Brendon Hammer
Thank you Chair.
First I’d like to register that the subjects under discussion here today are of high and increasing importance to Australia.
So I’d like very much to thank Thailand for putting this item on the Asian Contact Group’s agenda, and the panellists for their excellent presentations.
Australia knows the digital revolution is here now. Digital technologies and the internet have already become key drivers of growth and prosperity.
Indeed, they’ve become an essential part of the global economy.
And we believe that Asia, and the Indo-Pacific region as a whole – is on the cusp of a digital economic growth explosion.
This will involve a number of challenges and risks, but it will also create great potential and opportunities for digital trade, and wider growth and development in the region.
At the last Asian Partners Contact Group meeting, we highlighted Australia’s International Cyber Engagement Strategy which our Foreign Minister launched last October.
This Strategy addresses the full range of issues:
- from trade, to cybercrime;
- from international security to international cooperation;
- and from human rights to sustainable development.
Today, I’d like to outline in practical terms what Australia is doing in the Indo-Pacific region to enhance cyber security, contribute to regional development and harness the major opportunities that digital trade provides for economic growth and sustainable development.
In this connection, one of the key components of our Strategy is our Cyber Cooperation Program.
Through the Cyber Cooperation Program Australia is spending $30 million to help our neighbours in the Indo-Pacific take full advantage of the economic and development opportunities of digital trade while adopting capabilities to manage cyber incidents and cybercrime.
Key areas of focus include:
- reducing the risk of conflict between states, including by deepening understanding of the application of international law and norms of responsible state behaviour in cyberspace
- increasing cyber incident response capability by supporting Computer Emergency Response Teams and regional coordination
- promoting best practice use of technology for development consistent with a commitment to an open, free and secure Internet.
Since we began the Cyber Cooperation Program in 2017, thirty-six projects have been funded.
Many of these are listed in the handout we’ve provided [and see below*]
About half are in ASEAN countries.
For example, in partnership with Singapore and Thailand, Australia has convened cyber risk reduction workshops for ASEAN member states in Singapore in December 2017, and in Bangkok in February 2018.
And Australia has placed a cybercrime training coordinator in the UN Office of Drugs and Crime in Bangkok.
Further to the Cyber Cooperation Program, Australia’s Prime Minister announced this April that we will deliver a high-speed undersea telecommunication cable between Australia and the Solomon Islands.
This joint project is a first for the Solomon Islands, which currently is wholly reliant on satellite technology to access the internet.
Boosting connectivity in the Solomon Islands will improve governance and security and drive economic growth and we are designing the project to strengthen cyber security architecture and combat cybercrime.
Well, as I’ve said, these are just a couple of examples, among many, of what Australia is doing at a practical level.
It has become evident that the Indo-Pacific region has massive potential for digital trade.
We know that by 2017 the region was home to over 50 per cent of the world’s internet users.
Yet we also know that, in 2016, only 46.4 per cent of households in the region were connected to the internet.
This represents a vast untapped opportunity for digital trade.
Creating an enabling environment for such digital trade promises to deliver increased prosperity across the region and globally.
This is why – in multilateral forums including the G20, APEC, the WTO and the OECD, Australia continues to promote digital trade liberalisation and why we oppose putting barriers on digital trade.
And it is why we have made it a priority to actively shape an enabling environment for digital trade, including through trade agreements, harmonisation of standards, and implementation of trade facilitation measures.
Beyond what I have already said today, Australia knows that our region’s success in growing our digital economy – and in fighting cybercrime and other impediments to that growth – is dependent on cooperation and coordination with international partners across all of the world.
That’s because building and maintaining the digital economy, with all of its great opportunities – and with all of its risks and its dangers – is a truly global enterprise.
So in this connection, we look forward to continued engagement with the OSCE – and with the countries of Europe – as we go forward in this important area.