G7 leaders plan to ‘turbocharge' exports by digitising outdated paper systems

Group also agrees to tackle online safety to reduce illegal and harmful activity

Britain's Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden arrives at 10 Downing Street in central London on April 21, 2021. The proposed European Super League (ESL) appeared dead in the water on Wednesday after all six English clubs withdrew following a furious backlash from fans and threats from football authorities. / AFP / DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS

Leaders from the G7 agreed to replace outdated paper-based systems with digital tools in a bid to speed up exports and international trade, during a virtual meeting hosted by Britain's Culture Secretary on Wednesday.
Oliver Dowden and his counterparts from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the US and the EU agreed on plans "to turbocharge exports by digitising the cumbersome and centuries-old paper-based system" for key international trade transactions, while also improving the free flow of data.

The G7 also agreed to a series of principles to tackle online safety by ensuring major tech companies have systems and processes in place that reduce illegal and harmful activity and prioritise child protection.

The joint ministerial declaration, signed ahead of June’s G7 summit, is part of the first of seven ministerial declarations due to be signed this year.

“As a coalition of the world’s leading democracies and technological powers, we want to forge a compelling vision of how tech should support and enhance open and democratic societies in the digital age," Mr Dowden said.

“Together we have agreed on a number of priorities in areas ranging from internet safety to digital competition to make sure the digital revolution is a democratic one that enhances global prosperity for all.”

The leaders also agreed to tackle concerns over the market power of big tech platforms, with international regulators and policymakers set to meet the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority in autumn to discuss long-term co-ordination and enforcement.

Felicity Burch, director of digital for the Confederation of British Industry, said the latest moves from the G7 mark “a major milestone in the international digital agenda”.

“Over the last year, digital technologies have acted as a bedrock of resilience for economies,” Ms Burch said.

"This agreement can be a springboard for an inclusive, sustainable recovery and industry is ready to play its part to deliver this shared vision.”

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