BSA Proposes Forward-Looking Trade Agenda to Stop the Spread of Digital Protectionism

Asia Pacific economies stand to benefit from modernizing trade policies to foster expansion of digital trade

SINGAPORE — January 30, 2014 —

Asia Pacific economies risk missing out on the full benefits of information and communication technology (ICT) investments and software-driven services such as cloud computing if they do not modernize outmoded trade rules that threaten to inhibit digital trade in the region and around the world, a new report from BSA | The Software Alliance warned.

“Global trade, driven by rapid advances in technology, is quickly evolving, but trade rules have not kept pace. Some economies have resorted to digital protectionism which impedes digital trade, stifles innovation and holds back economic growth to the detriment of industries and customers both locally and worldwide,” said Alasdair Grant, BSA’s Managing Director for Asia Pacific.

“ICT investments in Asia Pacific have been robust with over US$1 trillion spent across the region in 2012, and continue to grow at a 3.4 percent compounded annual rate1. But such investments will not deliver maximum value unless governments remove barriers to information flow across borders. In the Pacific, the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) discussion is a historic opportunity to break new ground in modernizing trade rules that can foster growth in the digital economy,” said Grant.

To spur practices and policies that enable economies to capture the full benefits of the global digital economy, the BSA report, titled “Powering the Digital Economy: A Trade Agenda to Drive Growth,” puts forward a Digital Trade Agenda that facilitates digital commerce, promotes innovation, and creates level playing fields for ICT. The report outlines a three-part agenda to spur trade in digital age products and services:

  • 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.

“Digital protectionism only creates barriers that limit the growth of a digital economy, creating inefficiencies and redundancies that diminish its potential. BSA’s recommendations for Asia Pacific economies offer a program for liberalizing trade that will bolster their IT sector, give enterprises large and small the tools to innovate and grow, and improve consumer access to products and services that enhance quality of life,” added Grant.
The full report is available at: www.bsa.org/digitaltrade.

About BSA

BSA | The Software Alliance (www.bsa.org) is the leading global advocate for the software industry. It is an association of world-class companies that invest billions of dollars annually to create software solutions that spark the economy and improve modern life. Through international government relations, intellectual property enforcement and educational activities, BSA expands the horizons of the digital world and builds trust and confidence in the new technologies driving it forward.

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