02 Feb 2015

ICT Industry position on TTIP Regulatory Cooperation

ICT Industry position on TTIP Regulatory Cooperation

DIGITALEUROPE and ITI welcome greater momentum towards stronger transatlantic trade relations and we support the work of the European Commission and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative over the last seven rounds of negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP).

As the digital economy and digital trade become fundamental elements of the global economy, provisions to support the development and growth of and trade in ICT goods and services, cloud computing, and e-commerce are critical elements of 21st century trade agreements. A key priority for the information and communications technology (ICT) industry is for the T-TIP to build upon commitments made in previous trade agreements that promote the growth of these key aspects of the digital economy, including ensuring that the digital ecosystem and the data that flows through it remain open to innovation and commerce globally. The T-TIP should also strive to sustain and enhance cooperation on the protection of intellectual property rights and create a climate in which innovators are encouraged to invest in the research, development, and commercialization of leading-edge technologies, and promote the dissemination of technologies and services. Another priority for our industry, and the focus of this paper, is for the T-TIP to include provisions that reduce excessive regulatory costs, unjustified regulatory differences, and duplicative or unnecessary red tape for ICT products.

We commend the Commission and USTR for seeking to address regulatory challenges to ICT trade in the T-TIP through an “ICT annex” in a regulatory/technical-barriers-to-trade chapter. This paper proposes specific technical provisions to be included in an ICT annex. DIGITALEUROPE and ITI believe inclusion of an “ICT annex” would substantially improve the environment for conducting ICT-related business on both sides of the Atlantic.

DIGITALEUROPE and ITI advocate including ambitious provisions in the T-TIP that address technical ICT issues to enable better cooperation, innovation, and long-term alignment between European and US industries. By ambitious, we mean not only removing tariffs and non-tariff barriers (NTBs), but also fostering mutual recognition and, where possible, alignment of regulations. A more harmonized and compatible transatlantic market would have a positive effect on market growth by increasing the competitiveness of our industries and reducing their costs. It would also help to promote internationally recognized technology standards, helping both sides engage with third countries.

As we enter the eighth round of negotiations, we urge negotiators to focus on transparency and cooperation in technical regulations, standardization, e-accessibility, e-labelling, e-health, conformity assessment, imports of commercial products with encryption, and the Internet of Things, issues which already have mutual support from industry. We believe these issues form the foundation for a tremendous opportunity for the T-TIP to set the gold standard and fortify the global rules-based trading system.

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