WASHINGTON – Today, global tech trade association ITI highlighted the positive impact of digital trade provisions in U.S. free trade agreement (FTA) commitments on the U.S. economy in comments to the International Trade Commission’s (ITC) Economic Impact of Trade Agreements Implemented Under Trade Authorities Procedures, 2021 Report, Inv. No. TPA-105-008.
In its submission, ITI emphasized the importance of digital trade commitments, including FTA provisions that replicate the multilateral commitment preventing the imposition of tariffs on digital products. ITI’s submission also highlighted the significance of provisions that tackle regulatory barriers to trade that tend to disproportionately impact trade in productivity-enhancing information and communications technology (ICT) goods, as well as those that facilitate regulatory compatibility in emerging areas of governance.
“U.S. technology firms operate in an increasingly digitalized and globalized economy,” ITI wrote. “Firms of all sizes depend on the certainty that undue restrictions will impede neither access to goods and services nor the ability of data to cross borders. U.S. FTA provisions remain essential to fostering that certainty. They do so both by directly countering and preventing the emergence of protectionist measures, and by exerting a broad, normative influence that serves as a crucial underpinning to the regulatory compatibility that, along with the cross-border movement of data, is essential to the ability of tech and tech-enabled firms to succeed in the 21st century. We look forward to continuing to partner with the ITC to advance modern, evidence-based approaches to U.S. trade policy.”
As ITI notes in its submission, U.S. trading partners, including many of its largest trading partners, continue to innovate digital policy approaches that stand to detrimentally impact not only U.S. exports but the entire global innovation ecosystem. Given the increasing proliferation and expansion of barriers to digital trade, and growing evidence of their detrimental economic impact, it is clear that strong digital trade disciplines are important and necessary bulwarks against rising digital protectionism. In addition, even where such rules do not directly reduce or eliminate existing barriers to trade, their economic impact can be quantified on the basis of the relative certainty they provide to digital and ICT-driven businesses operating across a range of sectors.
This report from the ITC will assess the economic impact of all U.S. trade agreements since 1984 on the U.S. economy and is the second of two reports that the ITC is required to develop under 2015 Trade Promotion Authority legislation. The first was published in 2016.