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The Call for a Comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Agreement: A Golden Opportunity to Set Global Standards

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Greg-likes-this-pic-147x150.jpgBy Greg Slater, director of Trade and Competition Policy at Intel

Intel applauds the recent announcement from the leaders of the U.S. and European Union to launch negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).  We are particularly pleased with the broad, strategic scope of the TIPP.   President Obama, European Council President Van Rompuy, and European Commission President Barroso have emphasized that the agreement will “not only expand trade and investment across the Atlantic, but also contribute to the development of global rules that can strengthen the multilateral trading system.” 

The greatest value of a transatlantic agreement to Intel will be the precedent it can set across the globe on sensitive policy issues.  Other governments are more likely to follow when the EU and the U.S. speak with one voice on emerging trade, investment and innovation irritants, as the transatlantic economy accounts for nearly half the world GDP and 30 percent of world trade.   The Final Report of the U.S.-EU High Level Working Group (HLWG) on Jobs and Growth raises several global issues of interest to Intel. 

First, the HLWG recommends that the U.S. and the EU reach bilateral agreement on globally relevant rules, principles or modes of cooperation on “localization barriers to trade.”   We strongly agree with this recommendation.  Some governments are requiring businesses to locate R&D, IP and/or manufacturing within their borders as a condition of market access.  If not contained, these emerging localization requirements will interfere with global supply chains that are essential to the ICT industry.  They also will significantly impede the competitiveness of many EU and U.S. companies heavily dependent on emerging markets. 

Second, the HLWG Report also recommends that the transatlantic negotiations address, among other items, “significant IPR issues of interest to either side” to “contribute to the progressive strengthening of the multilateral trading system.”  Again, we agree, and point out several IPR issues of major interest to both the U.S. and the EU that should be considered: 

  • The U.S. and the EU must enhance trade secret protection.  In the Information Economy the constant transfer of ever growing amounts of data on multiple digital devices enables trade secret theft to occur anywhere at any time, and it needs to be appropriately deterred. 

  • The parties also should set global principles on preventing forced technology transfer through broad compulsory licensing, disclosure of sensitive information as a condition of market access, or otherwise.

Third, the HLWG Report suggests that the parties enhance their “cooperation on conformity assessment and standardization issues globally.”  These challenges also should include curtailing the proliferation of unnecessary, prescriptive technology regulations that may be based on international standards.  Such technology mandates are on the rise as more governments try to build up their local ICT infrastructure and industries, or overreact to legitimate privacy and security concerns.  

Redundant and/or burdensome certification requirements also are troublesome, as they can delay or even block the entry of imports.  Moreover, an increasing number of certification programs require unnecessary confidential business information that the receiving authority often is ill equipped to safeguard. 

Intel provided other examples in formal consultations that impede innovation and trade.  As the HLWG Report concluded and as stated by Commissioner De Gucht and Ambassador Kirk, “a comprehensive agreement that addresses a broad range of bilateral trade and investment issues, including regulatory issues, and contributes to the development of global rules, would provide the most significant mutual benefit of the various options [] considered.”

We look forward to working with U.S. and EU trade authorities to develop a comprehensive and creative agreement that enhances both transatlantic innovation and global competitiveness.       


About the Author
Global Government and Manufacturing Communications for Intel