Governments Driving Innovation at the UAE World Government Summit

February 19, 2016

Stefan Selig is the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade.

Last week, I was honored to join His Highness, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai at the World Government Summit. The Summit represented a critical meeting of more than 3,000 ministers to discuss ways we can enhance the roles of the private and public sectors to help improve government effectiveness by driving and applying innovation.

UAE Meeting

Under Secretary Selig meeting with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai and His Highness Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

I also had the privilege of leading the U.S. delegation to the UAE and delivering keynote remarks to commence the Summit, where I discussed how innovation has fundamentally redefined the nature of responsible governance. In the past, responsible governance was identified by how successful it was in securing its citizens’ ability to achieve gains relating to physical, economic, and social well-being. But today, because government can drive innovation of unprecedented scope and power, the modern responsible government will be defined by how successful it is in actively enabling its citizens to achieve these gains.

A clear example of this new brand of responsible governance comes from the UAE’s National Innovation Strategy. This is the country’s effort to create an environment to support its innovative workers, companies, and institutions. The strategy also includes using innovation to enhance delivery of government services, including transportation, education, and health care.

The United States has also shown that same commitment to driving innovation in order to help our citizens achieve important gains and improve their lives. Here at the Department of Commerce, we continue to drive innovation by promoting a free, open, and secure Internet. Through our bilateral and multilateral engagement, as well as our trade agreements, we secure cross-border data flows by preventing and rolling back policies that require companies to maintain servers in the countries where they do business, which is often costly and unnecessary. And through our work to expand broadband access, we have facilitated the paving of more than 115,000 miles of new or upgraded broadband networks.

This shared commitment to innovation is precisely why I signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the UAE Ministry of Economy. Our MOU will deepen our innovation partnership by encouraging more joint projects, as well as the exchange of expertise on innovation and entrepreneurship between our private sectors. In fact, we will be relying on many private sector actors to support the MOU, including the American Chamber of Commerce in Abu Dhabi and the U.S.-UAE Business Council.  So I am pleased that I was able to connect with these and other representatives of the American business community in the UAE to hear their thoughts and build relationships for the future.

But innovation has also reinforced what being a responsible stakeholder means in a global context: to drive innovation in order to carry out the tasks of tackling complex global challenges and deepening relations with other countries. Perhaps the most notable example is the recent agreement we reached with our European counterparts to finalize the EU-US Privacy Shield agreement. This not only promotes the free exchange of goods and services across the Atlantic, but it also reinforces a critical diplomatic and strategic partnership.

All of this is why the World Government Summit was so critical to the cause of sound governing of the future. For the nations and multi-lateral institutions that were represented, the summit provided a platform to deepen the very global innovation cooperation that will advance our political and economic interests, our strategic and diplomatic interests, and ultimately, our global interests. The International Trade Administration, which I lead, has the mandate to build strong commercial relationships with foreign governments and institutions. Having met with representatives from all over the world during my visit to the UAE, this trip was an extraordinary   opportunity to do just that.


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