The internet now accounts directly for upwards of 3.4 percent of GDP in many economies. About half of this comes from e-commerce and an additional 30 percent from investments in information technology infrastructure by private firms. The importance of the internet to the broader economy is set to increase in the coming years as more firms integrate technology into their business operations, and as diverse communications tools become more interconnected across most aspects of work and society. As highlighted during the PECC Singapore Conference 2015, the internet economy cuts across multiple sectors posing difficulties for effective policy-making domestically let alone internationally.
In 2014, APEC Leaders formally recognized the role of the internet economy in promoting innovative development and empowering economic participation of individuals and SMMEs (small, medium and micro enterprises) as much as for MNCs (multinational companies). They instructed Ministers and officials to discuss the internet economy further, promote member economies' cooperation on developing the internet economy, and facilitate technological and policy exchanges to bridge the digital divide. APEC Ministers agreed to establish an Ad Hoc Steering Group to discuss such issues, propose action, and encourage collaboration across multiple APEC fora by endorsing the APEC Initiative of Cooperation to Promote Internet Economy.
With the aim of supporting this initiative, PECC, in cooperation with the Philippines as the APEC chair for 2015, co-organizied a “Symposium on the Internet Economy” on May 18th, 2015 in Boracay, Philippines, during the week of annual APEC trade ministers' meeting.
The Symposium brought together APEC senior officials, representatives from internet economy-related businesses and relevant organizations to build on the multistakeholder dialogues underway since last year. The cross-cutting and borderless nature of the internet economy and ways to coordinate its socio-economic implications across different sectors and ministries of APEC were addressed.
Photos from the Symposium (courtesy of APEC 2015 Philippines)