APEC Makes Progress on Trans-Pacific Partnership

Over the weekend, the U.S. worked with its Pacific partners at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Honolulu to provide significant support for a new Pacific Rim trade agreement.  The leaders announced their acceptance of a framework for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a regional free trade agreement comprising the United States, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.  Another important development over the weekend was the announcements by Japan, Mexico and Canada that they were interested in the negotiations. USTR released a fact sheet outlining the negotiating framework.

The agreement would coordinate regulations in the Pacific region and would be the basis for building the rules for international trade and investment in the region for years to come.  This endorsement by the region’s high-level leaders commits them to the success of the TPP initiative. It gives political momentum to the effort to craft a 21st century trade agreement for the region, and raises the hope for a final agreement in 2012.

SIIA members are particularly interested in forward movement on the provisions the U.S. has tabled regarding intellectual property protection and cross-border data flows. SIIA looks favorably at the agreement the U.S. reached with the EU in the area of information and communication technologies (ICT). In particular, SIIA supports the principles on cross-border data flows and local infrastructure and recommends that similar provisions be included in the TPP.

Under the principle on cross-border data flows, governments should not prevent service suppliers of other countries, or customers of those suppliers, from electronically transferring information internally or across borders, accessing publicly available information, or accessing their own information stored in other countries. According to the local infrastructure provision, governments should not require ICT service suppliers to use local infrastructure, or establish a local presence, as a condition of supplying services.

These principles are similar to the ones SIIA, NFTC and other associations recently endorsed on cross-border data flows.  They are needed to ensure that content companies can reach customers and subscribers in different jurisdictions and that the benefits of economic growth, innovation and job creation from ICT services such as cloud computing are fully realized.

SIIA looks forward to working with negotiators from the U.S. and our trading partners to craft a workable agreement on these provisions that will boost trade, investment and jobs in the region.

Mark MacCarthy, Vice President, Public Policy at SIIA, directs SIIA’s public policy initiatives in the areas of intellectual property enforcement, information privacy, cybersecurity, cloud computing and the promotion of educational technology.

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