The Danish government has made plans to create a new diplomatic post to take advantage of the increasing importance of digital companies. According to the Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen, these “affect Denmark just as much as entire countries”. The new ‘Digital Ambassador’ will be responsible for directly liaising with the world’s largest tech companies such as Google, Apple and Facebook to encourage them to invest in Denmark.
The last few decades have seen an explosion in the number of partnerships between state and non-state organisations. However, the creation of this new diplomatic position may mark a trend towards more formalised relations between these actors.
The world’s top companies are today earning more than many countries and their influence is becoming increasingly recognised. For instance, Foreign Policy Magazine has recently awarded Eric Schmidt, the Executive Chairman of Google and Alphabet, its 2016 Diplomat of the Year award.
The emergence of these partnerships further challenges traditional views of a state-centric international order. States are still looking to foster relationships between each other, but are also competing to establish partnerships with multinational organisations to attract investment.
These new official positions will lead to the emergence of alternative diplomatic channels. In this case, the role of Digital Ambassador gives Denmark a diplomatic line to the United States that is beyond Washington. This may be increasingly useful when taking into account the potentially strained relations between EU countries and the US under the Trump administration.