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Internet Industry Details Extensive Barriers To Digital Trade in 2020 NTE Filing

“Our NTE filing shows other countries are developing digital trade barriers at an alarming rate that threatens the growth of the U.S. digital economy.”

Jordan Haas, IA Director, Trade Policy

Washington, DC – Internet Association today released its submission for the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR’s) National Trade Estimate Report (NTE) for 2020. IA’s filing outlines how some of the U.S.’s largest trading partners have created, or are considering creating, extensive barriers that prevent U.S. companies from doing business abroad or tilt the playing field unfairly towards foreign competitors.

“Our NTE filing shows other countries are developing digital trade barriers at an alarming rate that threatens the growth of the U.S. digital economy,” said IA Director, Trade Policy, Jordan Haas. “Some of the world’s largest economies are working diligently to erode America’s digital advantage, and it is critical the government address these actions. Digital trade created the largest trade surplus of any industry last year and USTR should prioritize the digital sector’s continued success.”

Digital trade barriers aren’t just being raised by bad actors like China and Russia. Traditional economic allies like Germany, France, and Australia are also working to undermine U.S. companies looking to grow and provide services abroad. And emerging economies like India, Indonesia, and South Africa are pushing some of the most problematic barriers to digital trade. 

The U.S. exported more than $451 billion in digital services last year, more than twice the amount of consumer goods exported ($205 billion) and almost three times more than the number of automotive vehicles ($158 billion) exported. The U.S. also boasts a $178 billion digital trade surplus, a 4.3 percent increase over last year’s $172 billion, and more than any other industry.

Digital trade barriers often prevent American companies from providing services to local citizens and connecting them to the rest of the world. IA’s filing outlines barriers in more than 50 countries and regions. The top barriers for American companies by volume include:

  • Copyright-related barriers 
  • Sharing economy barriers 
  • Unilateral or discriminatory digital tax measures 
  • Non-IP intermediary liability restrictions 
  • Data flow restrictions and service blockages

The full list of barriers detailed in IA’s report include: copyright-related barriers, customs barriers to growth in e-commerce, data flow restrictions and service blockages, discriminatory or opaque application of competition regulations, divergence from privacy best practices, filtering, censorship, and service-blocking, infrastructure-based regulation of online services, non-IP intermediary liability restrictions, restrictions on cloud service providers, sharing economy barriers, and unilateral or discriminatory digital tax measures.

“New trade agreements like USMCA and the Japan agreement will help to push back on trade policies that hurt American digital leadership and undermine our economy,” added Haas.

To read the full filing, click here.