Digital Agenda for Europe
A Europe 2020 Initiative

Action 99: Improve international trade conditions including IPR

Article
Work with third countries to improve international trade conditions for digital goods and services, including with regard to intellectual property rights.
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The action aims at working with third countries to improve international trade conditions for digital goods and services, including with regard to Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).

The European Commission holds regular Policy Dialogues with a set of third countries: the United States, China, Japan, Russia, Brazil and India.

The European Commission and the United States have agreed on Trade Principles for ICT services to be applied to partner countries. The European Commission launched in July 2013 the negotiation rounds for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the United States.

The EU also adheres and supports the WTO "e-commerce moratorium", which prevents WTO members to impose custom duty (or anything with equivalent effect) to "electronic transmissions".

The Commission will continue to negotiate a series of bilateral free trade agreements including the TTIP with the US, and negotiate in WTO the plurilateral services agreement-also known as TISA.

What is the problem? The nature of trade barriers has changed over time

While tariff barriers and quantitative restrictions have overall decreased, non-tariff barriers (e.g. labelling, conflicting standards and origin rules) and other regulatory restrictions have gained in importance.

Local contents provisions (requesting that a product/service or part of its inputs be sourced domestically) are also used increasingly to close out markets to international competition. The instruments used often refer to areas that have little to do with "traditional" trade policy, as for example cyber-security concerns. For example, a country could impose buying only national products or inputs claiming that imported ones could pose a security threat.

Why is EU action necessary? To improve international trade conditions

Trade interests in the ICT field are best defined and pursued through bilateral, regional or multilateral agreements.

The European Commission can help create favourable external trade conditions for digital goods and services, thus improving market access and investment opportunities. Its work in in the WTO including through the Information Technology Agreement (action 100) and through bilateral Free Trade Agreements helps reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers at global level, improve Intellectual Property Rights protection and avoid market distortions.

In view of the rejection by the European Parliament of ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) in July 2012, the Commission has to ensure that any currently negotiated international agreement containing provisions on intellectual property rights meets the highest possible standards in terms of protection of fundamental rights.

The EU also supports regulatory and policy reforms in third countries which contribute to a positive environment for European companies providing services or exports to such countries.

What has the Commission done until now?

  • Free Trade Agreements and Market Access: The Commission services continue to actively engage with on Free Trade Agreement negotiations with third countries, as well as take part in the market access for a specifically on the chapter for e-communications, but also for goods, investment and e-commerce.
  • DG CONNECT holds regular Policy Dialogues with a set of third countries: the United States, China, Japan, Russia, Brazil and India. The European Commission and the United States have agreed on Trade Principles for ICT services to be applied to partner countries. The European Commission launched in July 2013 the negotiation rounds for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the United States.
  • The EU also adheres and supports the WTO "e-commerce moratorium", which prevents WTO members to impose custom duty (or anything with equivalent effect) to "electronic transmissions".

What will the European Commission do next?

In 2014:

  • Continue to negotiate a series of bilateral free trade agreements including the TTIP with the US.
  • Negotiate in WTO the plurilateral services agreement-also known as TISA.
Progress Report
Status: On track Eddy HARTOG Contact
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