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 ITA (see 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.

The EU also supports regulatory and policy reforms in third countries which contributes 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 FTA 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 third countries: the United States on), China,), Japan on, 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 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?

In 2013:

  • Produce a trade template which reflects accurately the EU priorities in the field of e-communications and use it for trade negotiations in upcoming FTAs.
  • The Commission will adopt in 2013 a revised strategy, in the form of a policy Communication, for the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in third countries. Pursue its efforts in the different above mentioned negotiations and in the WTO.