Digital Trade

  • The BCTT Digital Trade Working Group includes an array of companies that depend on online information, products, services and infrastructure to conduct business, reach consumers, and effectively participate in the modern global marketplace.  Among other topics, the Working Group will focus on ways to use the agreement to promote cross-border information flows, improve regulatory compatibility, bolster cloud computing and ICT-enabled services, ensure technological innovation, and avoid forced localization requirements.
  • The TTIP should create a binding framework that fosters transatlantic digital trade and which can serve as a global benchmark to promote economic growth and development. 

Why Digital Trade Matters

  • Digital information, products and services, and the infrastructure that supports them, are the backbone of the modern global economy. Enterprises and individuals engage in digital trade in a variety of ways, including by conducting e-commerce, providing and accessing digital products, services and information, transferring data to run their global operations and utilizing ICT infrastructure.  These activities enable organizations and entrepreneurs to innovate, create new products and services, enhance productivity, enable cost-savings, improve efficiency, protect consumers, facilitate trade, and create jobs.
  • A broad range of industries and organizations on both sides of the Atlantic rely extensively on digital trade and global flows of information, including manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers, services firms, universities, labs, hospitals and other organizations and entrepreneurs.  According to one study, more than three-quarters of the economic value of the Internet is captured by manufacturing, financial services and industries other than pure Internet or e-commerce companies1.  
  • Digital trade presents important new opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurs.  Small businesses can use internet-enabled platforms and services to boost productivity and efficiency and to export and reach more markets than offline companies.  Studies have shown that businesses that use the internet intensively grow faster than companies that do not.

Objectives for the TTIP Negotiations

  • Through the TTIP, the United States and the European Union should build upon existing rights and obligations to develop trade disciplines that further foster transatlantic trade in digital information, products and services across sectors, which will contribute to a seamless transatlantic marketplace of commerce and ideas.  This includes establishing a framework that allows for flexibility on privacy and continuing cooperative work on security matters.  These efforts should be pursued in ways that encourage innovation and creativity, support trade, and recognize that differing approaches to these issues can achieve compatible outcomes.
  • Building on joint statements, including the European Union-United States Trade Principles for Information and Communication Technology Services, the TTIP should result in a binding framework with clear, consistent, and predictable rules that can serve as global benchmarks. 
  • It should include commitments to foster cross-border flows of information and access to digital products and services regardless of their method of delivery, and to prohibit requirements that service suppliers use local servers or other infrastructure or establish a local presence.  
  • The agreement should result in a sufficient cluster of ambitious commitments across sectors critical to the functioning of the digital economy, and must be structured in a way that encompasses future technologies.
  • TTIP provides an opportunity to deepen transatlantic cooperation with respect to promoting digital trade globally and to integrate shared principles into multilateral fora.  Through TTIP, negotiators should strengthen joint mechanisms developed under the Transatlantic Economic Council and U.S.-EU High Level Regulatory Cooperation Forum to emphasize the importance of digital trade to economic growth and development; bolster transparency, and ICT infrastructure; improve digital literacy; and shrink the digital divide globally.

For more information about this working group, contact:

Jake Colvin, National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC)
+1 (202) 887-0278 x 2025

Adam Schlosser, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
+1 (202) 463-5580


[1] Matthieu Pélissié du Rausas, James Manyika, Eric Hazan, Jacques Bughin, Michael Chui, Rémi Said, Internet matters: The Net’s sweeping impact on growth, jobs, and prosperity, McKinsey Global Institute, May 2011