Digital Trade Barriers Debut in National Trade Estimate

USTR released its annual National Trade Estimate report last week, which included a first-time listing of digital trade barriers.  A USTR fact sheet noted that these data flows generated $2.8 trillion in economic value in 2014—a greater impact on world GDP than global trade in goods.  Further, the fact sheet noted that data flows are expected to grow nine times over the next five years.  

Internet services and E-commerce trade barriers listed in the report include:

  • Arbitrary blocking of cross-border data flows in China
  • Data localization requirements in Russia and Indonesia 
  • News aggregation fees in certain EU member states 

The report also listed telecommunications trade barriers, including:

  • Foreign investment restrictions in China
  • Restrictions on satellite television suppliers in Argentina
  • International termination rates in the EU
  • Local content requirements in Brazil and Indonesia
  • Telecommunications equipment restrictions in China and India. 

USTR stated it would continue to use international trade agreements, such as the WTO’s General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade 1994 (the GATT 1994) and the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade – as well as other free trade agreements -- to ensure that U.S. companies can continue to supply new and innovative goods and services abroad.