Germany will chair this year’s G20 summit, which will be held in Hamburg on 7-8 July 2017. The ultimate goal of the annual G20 meetings of heads of state and government from the main economic powers of the world is, since the G20 was established in 2008, to find solutions to achieve strong, sustainable and balanced global economic growth. In this mission, governments are assisted by the business community, which will heold their B20 Summit on 2-3 May in Berlin. ChinaEU is eager to be part of this gathering.
This year, the German Presidency decided to give digitalisation a special attention, following the steps of China in its G20 presidency last year. In Hangzhou, innovation, the new industrial revolution and the digital economy were discussed for the first time in a G20 Summit (click here for ChinaEU coverage on G20-B20 China Summit). As a continuation to China’s hard work, a new B20 taskforce on digitalization was created starting from this year. A digital affairs ministers conference will also be organised for the first time within the G20 framework.
As part of the preparatory activities, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy hosted the conference “Digitising Manufacturing in the G20 – Initiatives, Best Practices and Policy Approaches” in Berlin on 16-17 March in the run-up to the G20 Digital Ministers meeting, scheduled in Düsseldorf on 6-7 April. This two-day event offered a platform to discuss intensively the concepts and the approaches of several G20 states in the field of manufacturing digitalisation and to exchange views on the challenges faced by the individual G20 states.
Wolfgang Scheremet, Director General Industrial Policy of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy delivering a speech on the digitalisation of production in Berlin
Wolfgang Scheremet, Director General for Industrial Policy of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy pointed out in his opening speech that digitalisation is changing the world we live in and the way products are manufactured. In other words, we are in the midst of the 4th industrial revolution, led by digital transformation.
He said: “There are 13 billion connected devices worldwide today and the number will increase 20 times in the next 5 years. The amount of data produced because of digitalization is doubling every 2 years.”
“Digitalisation is not a one-time event, it is a dynamic process. It is important to coordinate our efforts from the very beginning and develop a joint common language for our machines”, stressed Scheremet.
At the beginning of the year, the First Stakeholder Forum on Digitising European Industry, jointly organised by the European Commission and Member States, took place in Essen. The event gathered more than 500 delegates for a consultation on the action lines of the Digitising European Industry (DEI) initiative and fostered links between the various national and regional initiatives, digital innovation hubs and digital industrial platforms.
Khalil Rouhana, Deputy Director-General, DG CONNECT, European Commission speaking at the Digitising European Industry Stakeholder Forum in Essen
The gathering brought out a very positive and constructive message: Europe should stop complaining about the lack of a European version of Google or Baidu; instead we should focus on upgrading our competitive advantages and strengths, that is a strong industrial footprint, a strong talent base consisting of 4.7 million professional developers and a pool of highly sophisticated technologies developed by very promising European deep tech companies (companies focusing on artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual and augmented reality, and the Internet of Things).
会议带来了一个非常积极且具有建设性的信息：欧洲不应再抱怨欧洲版谷歌或百度的缺失; 相反，我们应该着重升级竞争优势和实力，即一个强劲的行业足迹，一个由470万专业开发人员组成的强大的人才队伍，以及由一批极具前景的欧洲深度科技公司（专注于人工智能 ，机器人，虚拟现实和增强现实以及物联网的公司）研发出的尖端科技。
Europe is aware of the importance and the urgency to utilize its core industrial advantage to remain ahead of its competitors worlwide. On one hand, it endeavors to promote industrial digitalisation across Member States. There are today thirteen initiatives brought forward at national level, such as “Industrie 4.0” in Germany, “Smart Industry” in the Netherlands, “Industrie du Futur” in France, “MADE Different” in Belgium, “Industria Conectada 4.0” in Spain, and “Piano Industria 4.0” in Italy. On 23 March 2017, the EU launched the European Platform of National Initiatives with an aim to coordinate the different national efforts by promoting best practice sharing and facilitating joint investments. The European Commission has set some very ambitious targets for this year: twenty National initiatives for digitisation of industry, and fifty more digital innovation hubs active across Europe by the end of 2017.
欧洲意识到利用核心工业优势来保有其在全球竞争中的领先地位的重要性和紧迫性。 一方面，欧盟努力促进其成员国的工业数字化，如今已出台了13个国家级的举措，例如，德国的“Industrie 4.0”，荷兰的“Smart Industry”，法国“Industrie du Futur”，比利时的“MADE Different”，西班牙的“Industria Conectada 4.0” ，意大利“Piano 4.0”。 2017年3月23日，欧盟启动了“国家计划的欧洲平台”项目，旨在通过最佳实践案例的分享和促进联合投资来协调不同国家的努力。 欧盟委员会还为今年设定了一个宏大的目标：二十个国家级工业数字化计划，以及于2017年底前在欧洲范围内建设五十个数字创新中心。
Panel Discussion ‘Shaping the future industry together’ at the Digitising Manufacturing Conference in Berlin
On the other hand, international collaboration and coordination remain crucial.
As a leading power in the process of digitalization as well as the greatest contributor to global growth today, China is seen as a precious partner by the EU. The strategic importance of such partnership was epitomized by the choice of inviting An Xiaopeng, Deputy Director General of the Department of Information Technology, Application and Software services of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) as the only foreign guest to deliver a speech at the opening session of the Berlin Conference to introduce China’s digitalization plans.
An Xiaopeng, Deputy Director General of Department of Information Technology/ Application and Software service of MIIT delivering the opening speech at the Digitising Manufacturing Conference in Berlin
“In recent years, the Chinese government has attached great importance to the digitalization of manufacturing. China has always taken the integration of informatization and industrialization as a key strategy that we must uphold for the long-term national economic development. Since 2012, China has promulgated and implemented a series of strategies and plans, including Broadband China, Made in China 2025 and Internet Plus.” said An in his opening speech.
China boasts the largest ICT network in the world, with 280 million fixed broadband users, 68% of which have access to fiber-optic connections. The sector has been growing very rapidly, counting today 610 million 4G users, for total sales volume of 17 trillion RMB. ICT has become a key driver for the national economic development, contributing today to about 7% of GDP. By December 2016, there were 731 million netizens in China and the Internet penetration rate has reached 53%.
With the wide penetration of the Internet in production and people’s life, a series of new types of business and business models came into being in the fields of e-commerce, online payment and the sharing economy. This has led to the creation of several Internet companies whose market value surpassed tens or hundreds of billion US dollars, such as Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu. In 2016, China’s e-commerce transactions valued 26 trillion yuan (3.5 trillion euro), ranking the top in the world.
Digitising European Industry (DEI) has now become the industrial policy of the EU, aiming at boosting the digitization of industrial manufacturing sectors, from automotive, to healthcare, pharmaceutical and mechanical engineering, while driving the interconnection of products, value chains and business models, through the Internet. This is not much different from the “Made in China 2025”, China’s State Council’s initiative which was also directly inspired by Germany’s “Industry 4.0” plan. The goal of the political leadership in China is to comprehensively upgrade the Chinese industry towards a green, smart, efficient, sustainable and optimized structured that emphasizes quality over quantity.
In a global world, digitizing manufacturing requires close cooperation among technical bodies, companies and governments. Both the Chinese leadership and Europe are committed to foster an international joint-effort to explore synergies between national guidances and regulations and leverage each other’s strengths.
ChinaEU identified priority areas of work on which Europe and China should focus:
- Improving the coordination of the respective legislations on digital, such as 5G, data flow, and cyber-security;
- Promoting efforts to provide skills training to ensure that the workforce is well prepared for a smooth adaptation toward new technologies;
- Exploring new business models and creating a favorable environment for SMEs, who are the major source of innovation and employment;
- Encouraging academic and scientific dialogue to boost joint research and comparative studies.
Work in this area would improve mutual trust and facilitate joint EU-China industrial digitization projects.