June 13, 2017

WASHINGTON — ITI, the global voice of the tech sector, in comprehensive recommendations to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), encourages the United States, Canada and Mexico to set high standards in the upcoming negotiations to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which should “serve…as a platform for leveraging technology for broad economic and societal benefits.”

“For the tech industry, modernizing NAFTA offers a promising opportunity to create 21st century standards that are sorely needed in future trade agreements to enable the powerful role digital trade plays in helping all industries in America grow our economy and create new jobs,” said ITI President and CEO Dean Garfield. “Since NAFTA, the internet, smart phones, and online commerce have changed how we do business, making it possible for startups, small businesses, and others to break down trade barriers and sell their goods and services around the world. Digital trade can grow our economy when governments promote an open internet where data can move freely across borders, protect intellectual property and trade secrets, and ensure security technologies like encryption and internationally developed cybersecurity standards are the norm.”

Technology Trade Powers Economic Growth & US Trade Surplus:

Technology companies employ over 6.9 million Americans – 5% of private sector employment – and account for 7.5% of U.S. GDP. U.S. companies exported more than $200 billion in technology goods in 2016, with NAFTA trade partners Mexico ($43 billion in U.S. exports) and Canada ($24 billion in exports) comprising the two largest export markets.

Additionally, ITI noted the significance of digital trade to other industries in the American economy. In 2015, U.S. firms exported $400 billion of services provided over information and communications technology networks.

Recommendations to Modernize NAFTA & Grow Digital Trade:

In its recommendations, ITI urged the Trump Administration to open markets, create jobs, and realize the many other economic benefits of digital trade by:

  • Promoting a free and open internet;
  • Ensuring that data can move freely across borders;
  • Prohibiting requirements on companies to localize data or production, or to turn over technology, source code, algorithms, or encryption keys;
  • Seeking industry-led, globally “interoperable” approaches to privacy and cybersecurity;
  • Ensuring that regulation of online services and applications targets genuine regulatory objectives, and that governments do not make Internet intermediaries, platforms, and cloud providers liable for activity by third parties that they do not control;
  • Eliminating restrictions, tariffs, taxes, and fees on all technology products and committing Mexico to join the WTO’s Information Technology Agreement (ITA).
  • Eliminate burdensome customs regulations that technology products face at the border;
  • Prohibiting discrimination against “new services” – i.e., services not yet conceived;
  • Ensuring the use of industry-led international standards in technical regulations; and
  • Promoting balanced copyright rules and strong protections for patents and trade secrets.

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Public Policy Tags: Trade & Investment