COPENHAGEN – Denmark will become the first nation in the world to appoint a special “digital ambassador” to work on building ties with the global tech giants like Google and Apple, according to the country’s foreign minister.
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“These companies have become a kind of new nations, and we need to address this [tendency],” Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen said in an interview with Politiken newspaper right after a conference on the future of Denmark’s Foreign Service.
Samuelsen said the initiative stems from the growing importance of the tech sector to the Danish economy, stressing that Google, Apple, IBM, and Microsoft “are companies that influence Denmark as much as other nations do: it’s a new reality.”
The new official will be charged with establishing and grooming Denmark’s relations with the tech giants.
Denmark has already reaped the benefits of coordinated lobbying efforts aimed at the world’s largest tech companies. Just last week, Facebook announced plans to build a new data centre in Odense. The Foreign Ministry said the Facebook deal was the result of three years of behind-the-scenes work.
“Although only one percent of all companies in Denmark are foreign, they create some 20 percent of all Danish jobs. For this reason, the Danish government works continuously to attract more foreign investments to Denmark,” Samuelsen said upon signing the deal with Facebook last week.
The new appointment will be a tech liaison who reflects a diplomatic power shift between established nations and privately-owned conglomerates.
The new ambassadorship, which hasn’t been filled yet, will open a new Danish diplomatic line to the United States beyond Washington (which may be useful in itself, given the prospects of strained U.S.-European relations under President Donald Trump).
The Danish minister noted, however, that the novel position will not lead Denmark to turn away from more traditional forms of diplomatic relations.
“We must, of course, maintain the old ways of building relations with other countries. Yet we also need to have close relationships with some of the companies that affect us,” the foreign minister stated.