January 26, 2016

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Trans-Pacific Partnership will help ensure global leadership of U.S. innovation sector

By
Linda Moore
The Hill

The U.S. technology sector has grown into a leading force in the U.S. economy over the last decade, fueled by an unparalleled commitment to innovation and an unprecedented investment in research and development.  

The statistics are staggering: the U.S. innovation economy now supports more than 30 percent of U.S. GDP and employs more than 6.5 million Americans.  It’s being driven by the incredible new technologies developed in Silicon Valley, Seattle, Austin, Boston, and beyond, and it has been accelerated by international trade.  

The U.S. innovation sector is the global leader in technology, second to none.  We’re home to the largest and most recognizable technology brands in the world – Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Cisco, Yahoo, Oracle, HP, Facebook, Twitter, and Salesforce – as well as to a host of dynamic startups that are quickly become household names – Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, ChargePoint, Bloom Energy, and Upwork. 

Yet, our ability to continue to lead in this sector is dependent on access to the fastest growing markets in the world and the uninhibited flow of data across borders.   

That’s why it is so important that Congress approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  

Our interconnected world has enabled American innovation to be exported to consumers around the globe, and the recently completed Trans-Pacific Partnership holds significant potential to spur further growth and innovation in our industry.   

TPP was negotiated between the United States and 11 Pacific Rim trading partners. Among these partners are some of the fastest-growing economies in the world.  

Collectively, these countries represent nearly 40 percent of global GDP.  In the U.S., trade supports 39 million jobs. 

For U.S. technology companies, which exported $315 billion in manufactured goods and services in 2014, the opportunities provided by this agreement are significant.  

Asia is the fastest growing region in the world, and will be home to the majority of middle-class consumers by 2030.  Many Asian markets offer fast-growing populations with more access to technology than ever before, allowing U.S. tech firms to continue to grow their customer bases abroad while expanding jobs and investment here at home. 

So what will the Trans-Pacific Partnership do? 

  • The agreement standardizes rules and regulations across trading partners to increase fair competition and consumer protection in the tech sector.
  • It guarantees nearly unrestricted cross-border data flows between TPP member countries and mandates that TPP countries enact online consumer protection laws to help reduce fraud.
  • The agreement bars "forced localization," which will help foreclose attempts to require companies to build costly and unnecessary data centers in the markets they serve.
  • TPP will eliminate tariffs and customs duties on digital products and ban content discrimination against American software, music, videos, and e-books, increasing opportunities for American exporters of these products.

Taken together, these provisions represent sensible first steps in modernizing trade policies for technology companies. 

During his final State of the Union address, President Obama reiterated his support for TPP and urged Congress to approve the free trade agreement, yet its fate is up in the air.  

International trade will continue to drive the growth of the U.S. tech sector for years to come.  

The Trans-Pacific Partnership establishes effective trade rules that will help U.S. exporters in this sector gain market access and compete on a level playing field abroad, while safeguarding the privacy and digital freedom of technology users.  

This agreement will support U.S. technology leadership around the globe.  On behalf of our member companies, we urge our leaders in Congress to support the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

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