10 Nov 2017

Ahead of the Foreign Affairs Council meeting taking place this Friday

Ahead of the Foreign Affairs Council meeting taking place this Friday

Ahead of the Foreign Affairs Council meeting taking place this Friday, 10 November 2017, and in the context of the discussions on the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference as well as ongoing trade negotiations with Mercosur, Mexico and Japan, DIGITALEUROPE would like to reiterate the following four points.

1. DIGITALEUROPE members are strong supporters of the WTO trading system and of all initiatives taken to improve global trade liberalization in goods, services and investment, in particular to continue attracting new members to the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) and its expansions. As the final agenda of the next Ministerial Conference is yet to be decided, we encourage Europe to continue its political leadership to advance discussions on the geographical expansion of the ITA, digital trade and e-commerce; to promote the growth of digital technology goods and services. For the WTO to continue being relevant, it also needs to address digital trade, because this has become an enabler for all sectors of the economy. We would also like to underline the importance of honouring the ITA as it is a key driver for the future of global digitalization.

2. Dual-use items are absolutely essential for the competitiveness of the EU Industry and a wellbalanced export control policy is crucial in order to survive today’s razor sharp global competition. We believe that the current Commission proposal for a revised Dual-Use Export Control Regulation includes elements that will lead to unintended negative consequences putting the EU Industry even further behind third country competition. In the global digital economy, an EU Export Control framework based on international principles is instrumental to maintain the EU’s continued position as world leader when it comes to Information and Communications Technology.

3. At the same time, we need to continue pushing for bilateral and plurilateral trade negotiations to open new markets for European business in the shorter term and to make sure Europe is a global thought leader in developing the new rules for digital trade. In this context, I wish to reiterate the value of the EU and Japan agreement in particular. We remain convinced that it will deliver significant economic benefits and contribute to the development of both economies. It will not only improve market access and regulatory coherence but also expand trade and investment, economic growth and employment, and contribute to enhanced competitiveness and productivity of both economies. DIGITALEUROPE has strongly supported the EU-Japan FTA all along and encourages a final agreement by the end of the year. Yet, we wish to reiterate our call to include data flows and provisions banning data localisation in the final agreement so this FTA truly becomes the standard for all future agreements. The EU has identified digital trade as key interest interest, but unfortunately, an EU position on data flows is still lagging despite the strong support from European business and a large majority of Member States as well as the European Parliament.

4. Lastly, DIGITALEUROPE is a strong supporter of the ongoing negotiations between the EU and Mercosur as well as Mexico, respectively. We believe Mexico’s accession to the ITA should form part of these negotiations. We are convinced that these groups of countries are well-suited partners to jointly advance digitalisation and cooperate to attract new ICT investments and to achieve digital inclusion and transformation on a world scale. We hope that this objective will be reflected in the ongoing trade negotiations. Digital trade and, more generally, data-driven economies become fundamental, horizontal elements of the global economy. Provisions to foster the development, growth and trade in ICT goods and services, cloud computing and e-commerce are critical elements of 21st century trade agreements. There should never be any obligations to disclose source-code in connection with civilian use of ICT.

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