USTR Digital Trade Working Group Rapid Response Team Creation An Excellent Step

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United States Trade Representative Michael Froman announced on July 18 the creation of a digital trade working group.  This will “serve as a ‘Rapid Response’ team to identify and combat barriers to digital trade around the globe, as well as promote sound policies to advance global digital trade.”

This is from SIIA’s perspective an excellent initiative.  It is especially significant that the Working Group will, among other things, focus on the enforcement of existing trade law commitments pertinent to digital trade.  SIIA strongly supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA).  In order to build support for this expansive trade agenda, vigorous enforcement of existing commitments is helpful.

Clearly, USTR is looking at all means at its disposal to enhance the international position of the digital sector write large.  The emphasis on cloud computing, platform services, and trade in digital products is absolutely correct.  In this context, ensuring that the full potential of industries (really all industries sooner or later) using the “Internet of Things” is important.  Another emerging issue is Artificial Intelligence.  We know that in the G7 context, Japan has proposed principles for Artificial Intelligence.  The Working Group might want to engage on that issue. And while not directly under the purview of USTR, ensuring that non-trade distorting interoperability mechanisms such as the EU-US Privacy Shield, are available to companies, should also be an ongoing priority.

We commend the creation of this USTR digital trade working group.  We look forward to working with USTR on the issues that the group will grapple with.

Carl Carl Schonander is Senior Vice President for Global Public Policy.