Posts Under: International Policy

Productivity Remains Key for Prosperity and Good Policy Remains Key to Raising Productivity

Gavyn Davies writes in an April 30, 2017 Financial Times piece that “there have been some signs that productivity growth may be starting to recover from the low points reached a few years ago.”  Davies notes that Jan Hatzius from Goldman Sachs shows somewhat improving labor productivity growth starting in 2016 – Hatzius used official data and numbers from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) purchasing manager’s index.  And Juan Antolin-Diaz is slated to publish work in the Review of Economics and Statistic next month showing an increase in trend productivity growth from 0.3% in 2012 Q2 to 0.7% now.  Davies himself, however, concedes that these numbers are tentative.

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Chinese Proposed Cross-Border Data Flow Rules Contradict an Emerging International Default Norm for Cross-Border Data Flows

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) recently issued draft “Security Assessment Measures for the Cross-Border Transfer of Personal Information and Important Data.” The draft comes in the context of the Chinese Cybersecurity Law, which is scheduled to be implemented on June 1, 2017.  The National Security Law of China likely also influenced this draft. 

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Trade Agreements and Data Protection: Changing GATS Article XIV is Not the Way to Go

In a March 30, 2017 opinion piece, “Don’t trade away data protection,” two leading Members of the European Parliament, Viviane Reding and Jan-Phillip Albrecht, suggest “strengthening data protection safeguards in the General Exception (known as GATS XIV) and E-Commerce chapters, and removing necessity and consistency tests.”  The idea behind the proposal is to make absolutely certain that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and perhaps other parts of the EU privacy acquis could not be successfully challenged as inconsistent with an affirmative cross-border data flow obligation.  This is a topic SIIA will comment on again in the coming months, likely in a longer form Issue Brief.  This blog discusses the proposal to remove the necessity test.

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U.S.-China Trade: Yes it is Time to Try Something Different!

The meeting between President Donald J. Trump and President Xi Jinping appears to have been a productive first get together between the leaders of the world’s most important bilateral economic and political relationship.   SIIA was pleased that President Trump raised concerns about, among other topics, China’s cyber policies on U.S. jobs and exports. 

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Time for Congress to Clarify Rules on Law Enforcement Access to Overseas Data

Technology companies are increasingly challenged by requests by law enforcement to access data stored outside the U.S. This issue came to a head in July 2016, when the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the U.S. Government in the case Microsoft v. United States, stating that the government cannot compel Microsoft, or other companies, to turn over customer emails stored on servers outside the United States.  The Department of Justice (DOJ) is expected to appeal this decision, and various other cases are making their way through the courts.

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Data Flows and Development - There is a link!

SIIA hosted a panel discussion for delegates to the World Trade Organization (WTO) E-Commerce Work Committee in Geneva on March 14, 2017.  UNCTAD’s Cecile Barayre, the Brookings Institution’s Joshua Meltzer, Tala’s Zach Marks, and Google’s Nicholas Bramble provided background information, which elicited many insightful questions.  One takeaway that is perhaps not obvious to all who participate in trade negotiations is that cross-border data flows are not necessarily synonymous with domestic deregulation.  This is consistent with SIIA’s view that governments should permit – indeed even encourage – cross-border data flows through offering data transfer interoperability mechanisms that enable cross-border data flows, but at the same time ensure compliance with national privacy and other laws.  This resource paper provides information on sources that governments and others can consult as they consider policy in this space.

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Europe Does Better on the Right To Be Forgotten

In a significant ruling, earlier this month, the European Court of Justice ruled that an individual’s privacy interest in limiting the disclosure of personal information does not generally override the interest in public disclosure about company officials. The ruling protects the public interest in transparency about governance of public companies; preserves the capacity of stock holders to assess companies accurately and protect their legal rights with respect to them; and reaffirms the legitimacy of data processor access to personal information in public data bases about companies.

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"Hidden Figures:" A Great Story on Jobs as well as Civil Rights

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend a screening of 21st Century Fox’s “Hidden Figures.”  This is a great movie about the critical contributions made by three African-American women – Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson -  to put John Glenn into space in the early 1960s.  The movie depicts the struggles these women faced to be treated equally as the consummate professionals they were at a time when the state of Virginia still enforced segregation laws.  It is a wonderful and uplifting story about a mostly unexplored but important dimension of American history.  Go see it! There is an interesting sub-plot to the movie, which has to do with the usually somewhat dry – at least on the big screen -  topic of automation and jobs.  Johnson, Vaughn and Jackson were hired by NASA to be human “computers.”  Part of Johnson’s job was to calculate John Glenn’s exact landing zone in ...

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Digital Attaché Program Doubling is Excellent News

Yesterday, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker announced a doubling of the Digital Attaché program.  The program already covers Brazil, China, the European Union, India, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and Japan.  The expansion will include South Korea, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa, Germany, and France.  This is a group of well-chosen countries.  South Korea is the world’s 14th largest economy.  The world’s first free trade agreement to include provisions on data flows is the U.S.-South Korea Agreement (KORUS) – see Article 15.8.  South Korea is also a crucial diplomatic partner for the United States, particularly in standing up for non-discriminatory trading practices throughout Asia and beyond. Indonesia is of course huge.  It is also a very challenging market for U.S. companies in part because of data localization requirements there.  These requirements are so economically significant that the Europ ...

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New Avenues to Govern Cross-Border Information Flows

The Elliott School of International Affairs hosted a very interesting conversation today on “New Avenues to Govern Cross-Border Information Flows.”  SIIA co-sponsored the event together the Internet Society of Greater Washington, D.C.  The Institute for International Economic Policy (IIEP) presented the event.  Research Professor and Cross-Disciplinary Fellow Susan Aaronson moderated. I provided an industry perspective, and my talk is available here.  My written remarks focus on what we hope to achieve with respect to cross-border data flows in the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), the WTO’s E-commerce Work Committee, the G20, G7, and the OECD.   However, as fellow panelist USTR Director for Digital Trade Sam DuPont concentrated on these fora, I emphasized in my spoken remarks four aspects of the cross-border data flow discussion.  First, key industry “asks” such as obligations to permit data flows, avoidance of serv ...

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