Digital Trade Issues Feature Prominently in U.S. Trade Agenda

BY CCIA Staff
February 20, 2014

In a watershed rhetorical moment this week, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman not only acknowledged the importance of several digital trade issues but he highlighted them as key elements of the U.S. trade negotiating position going forward.

His remarks – delivered in a speech at the Center for American Progress – focused on two key policy issues of utmost importance to Internet-enabled commerce: the commercial importance of copyright limitations and exceptions (such as fair use) and an acknowledgement that 21st century trade agreements should clear the way for data and information flows.

In a 21st century global economy where the Internet will be more important to international commerce than shipping lanes were last century or than the Silk Road was two millennia ago, it would be unthinkable not to incorporate the needs of the information economy into the international trade agenda.

Without copyright limitations and exceptions in the U.S., such as fair use, technologies such as search engines and video/audio recording devices would be illegal and websites like YouTube and Facebook would not exist.  And without trade provisions that encourage the free flow of data and information, particularly at the time when the future of the Internet is in jeopardy, the Internet could become a patchwork quilt of different networks, protocols and regulations that prevent the seamless global exchange of data and information.  Not only would this spell disaster for Internet users who rely on the Internet to communicate with each other and educate themselves, but it would also have dire consequences for companies that rely on the Internet to facilitate global supply chain management and to access international customers.

These issues are becoming even more important in the trade context for the USTR as international markets become more important for U.S. Internet companies.  For example, China has nearly two times the number of Internet users as the U.S. has people, and major Internet companies such as Facebook and Google have an international revenue intake that either meets or exceeds their domestic revenue intake (and Twitter saw its international revenue skyrocket in 2013).  And, not only will these commitments benefit the U.S., they will also spur innovation and investment in the domestic Internet sectors of our trading partners who commit to these principles themselves.

Although these two key issues are not an exhaustive list of trade policies needed to facilitate Internet commerce (for a more comprehensive list, refer to CCIA’s comments to the U.S. International Trade Commission on digital commerce), having them feature in an agenda-setting speech by the head U.S. trade negotiator at a time when three major trade agreements are in play is a great step in the right direction for U.S. trade policy.

Related Articles

Global Coalition of Industry Groups Offer Digital Recommendations to G7 Leaders

Apr 9, 2021

Washington — The Computer & Communications Industry Association joined 16 other tech and business groups today to offer joint recommendations  for G7 leaders. The recommendations precede the  G7 Digital and Technology Ministerial on April 28-29. Representatives from tech organizations in each of the G7 countries and Europe plan to meet April 15 to further discuss…

CCIA Offers Recommendations on EU-US Regulatory Agenda

Apr 9, 2021

Washington — The Computer & Communications Industry Association released recommendations for a new start to EU-US cooperation on trade and digital regulations. The Transatlantic relationship remains a key trade partnership, and a renewed commitment to strengthening it through increased dialogue on urgent digital issues is welcomed. CCIA offered recommendations to policymakers supporting increased cooperation on…

Supreme Court Decides Landmark Google v. Oracle Case On Copyright, Interoperable Tech Products

Apr 5, 2021

Washington — The Supreme Court has issued its ruling in the Google v. Oracle copyright case, which has been litigated for more than a decade. The outcome, which has sweeping implications for the tech industry, means the reuse of certain program elements necessary for interoperability is fair use and not an infringement of copyright law.…