WASHINGTON — January 30, 2014 —
Global trade rules haven’t kept up with rapid innovation in software-driven products and services such as cloud computing and data analytics, according to a new report from BSA | The Software Alliance. To stop the spread of digital protectionism, BSA proposes a forward-looking trade agenda that enables digital commerce, promotes innovation and creates level playing fields for information technology.
“Software-driven technologies are sparking transformative innovation throughout the economy and in all aspects of modern life. To capture the maximum possible benefit from these advances, governments need to foster rather than inhibit digital trade,” said BSA President and CEO Victoria Espinel. “We need modern trade rules that prevent new forms of IT-focused protectionism and ensure information can flow freely across borders.”
“With regional agreements being negotiated in the Atlantic and Pacific, plus separate talks on services and IT products, we have a historic opportunity to craft the right trade agenda for the digital age,” Espinel said. “Agreements that recognize the transformative impact of digital trade will empower enterprises of all sizes to innovate and grow, give consumers access to the world’s best products and services, create jobs and improve quality of life.”
BSA’s report, titled “Powering the Digital Economy: A Trade Agenda to Drive Growth,” catalogues examples of digital protectionism that undercut the social and economic benefits of software-enabled products and services. Examples of these non-traditional market barriers include restrictions on the flow of information across borders, nationalistic technology-certification and standard-setting policies, and favoritism for local IT products and services in government procurement.
To spur trade in digital age products and services, BSA outlines a three-part agenda:
- First, modernize trade rules to reflect the realities of digital commerce as it is being conducted today. This requires facilitating trade in innovative services such as cloud computing, keeping borders open to the free flow of data, and preventing mandates on where servers or other computing infrastructure must be located.
- Second, promote the continued progress of technology innovation. For this, a trade agenda must secure modern intellectual property protections and encourage the use of voluntary, market-led technology standards.
- Third, create level playing fields for all competitors. That requires governments to lead by example. They should be fully transparent in how they choose which technologies to buy, basing decisions on whether a product or service best meets their needs and provides good value, not on where the technology was developed.
“Any country that wants to compete globally in the information age needs a comprehensive digital agenda that includes forward-looking trade policies,” Espinel said. “Governments must recognize that walling off information in a networked world is self-defeating; no national economy can grow as fast in isolation as it can with solid trade relationships.”
The full report is available at: www.bsa.org/digitaltrade.