What are the Implications a Negotiation on NAFTA Could Have on the Tech Industry?

20170313_123223_editThis week, the Association of Women in International Trade (WIIT) hosted a lunchtime panel discussion on the implications a negotiation of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) could have on the tech industry. I was joined by Internet Association Senior Director of Government Affairs Ellen Schrantz and National Foreign Trade Council Vice President for Legal Affairs and Trade and Investment Policy Vanessa Sciarra. The well-attended event was held at the D.C. advocacy and communications firm SIGNAL Group, and discussion was moderated by SIGNAL Group Manager Clare Şahin and eBay Senior Manager of Government Relations Caitlin Brosseau.

Discussion centered around a main theme of “modernize, but do no harm.” There is much to like about trade under NAFTA, such as its provisions on government procurement and exemptions from merchandise processing fees. However, there is also ample room for improvement as the U.S. seeks to forge 21st century agreements that can address trade policy as it relates to new technologies and digital trade.

In particular, panelists and I discussed the importance of including many of the Trans-Pacific Partnership’s Digital Two-Dozen principles in any updated NAFTA text—not just to benefit trilateral trade with Canada and Mexico, but also to serve as a benchmark against which future trade agreements can be evaluated.

As one of the fastest-growing sectors of the U.S. economy, and as an amplifier and facilitator of more traditional sectors, the tech industry is integral to the long-term economic health of the U.S.