WASHINGTON – Today, global tech trade association ITI identified trade barriers faced by U.S. tech companies across the world and offered recommendations for the U.S. to advance its trade work on digital issues. In comments to the Office of U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) consultation to its National Trade Estimate (NTE) report, ITI outlined trade barriers in 29 non-U.S. markets – including Brazil, China, the European Union, India, Mexico, Indonesia, and Vietnam – and encouraged USTR to advance a strong digital trade agenda through countering restrictions to digital trade, enforcing U.S. trade agreements, pursuing strong digital trade commitments, and supporting a robust international digital policy agenda.
“In the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement’s (USMCA) digital trade chapter, the USTR established a model for ambitious commitments to counter barriers to digital trade on which it has continued to build,” ITI wrote. “At the same time, barriers to digital trade and e-commerce have continued to emerge in markets across the world, including in the markets of some of the United States’ most important trading partners, impeding U.S. exports of goods and services across a wide range of sectors.”
“ITI appreciates USTR’s openness and responsiveness to discussions about the growing set of trade-related issues that the tech sector faces in foreign markets,” ITI continued. “The 2020 NTE made further improvements on previous iterations in addressing many policy priorities for the tech sector, particularly forced localization policies, digital services taxes, and other restrictions to digital trade. USTR’s continued efforts, in these and other areas, will continue to enable goods and services exports for U.S. companies and deepen commercial relationships with the United States’ trading partners. We are confident that the 2021 NTE will serve as an important marker in delineating our highest priority barriers to trade.”
In its submission, ITI encouraged USTR to prioritize work on digital issues in the following ways:
- Take action against digital trade restrictions that inhibit greater trade in technology products and services. Such barriers include restrictions on data flows, data localization policies, tariffs and unilateral digital taxes, non-risked based cybersecurity measures, and trade-restrictive approaches to the regulation of new technology;
- Enforce U.S. trade agreements, such as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, to ensure tech companies and workers can compete fairly;
- Pursue digital trade commitments with foreign governments, building on existing U.S. agreements to expand international acceptance of similar state-of-the-art digital trade commitments with viable third countries; and
- Increase efforts and resources to support a robust U.S. digital policy agenda, including through designating a senior official at USTR to be responsible for digital trade with a status and mandate comparable to Ambassador-level positions for agriculture and intellectual property, and to add resources at all levels of the agency.