WASHINGTON – In comments submitted today, global tech trade association ITI urged the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to prioritize work on digital issues as barriers to digital trade and e-commerce continue to emerge in markets across the world.
ITI’s comments highlighted trade barriers in more than 20 U.S. trading partners, including in key markets China, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Barriers of concern include data localization requirements, forced transfer and disclosure of source code, algorithms, or encryption keys, and burdensome restrictions on the importation of ICT equipment.
“We urge USTR to catalogue and take action on the foreign measures contained in this submission. These measures make it substantially more difficult for millions of U.S. firms that rely on digital technologies to export their goods and services,” ITI wrote.
For example, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) released a one-page directive on the Storage of Payment System Data that required all payment data to be stored only in India within six months without any prior stakeholder consultation or notice. This requirement obligated U.S. payment companies to make significant investments in order to adhere to the regulator’s demands. Meanwhile there is growing evidence that the Government of India is creating an un-level playing field for U.S. firms operating in the market both through overt political statements of support for “homegrown” providers, and policies and projects designed to promote the use of domestic payment solutions in lieu of U.S. branded solutions.
Beyond identifying barriers, ITI outlined specific ways USTR could support digital trade:
- Take action against digital trade restrictions that inhibit trade in technology products and services;
- Enforce U.S. trade agreements to ensure U.S. companies and workers can compete fairly;
- Actively pursue digital trade commitments with foreign governments; and
- Increase efforts and resources to support a robust U.S. digital trade policy agenda.
Read ITI’s full comments here.