News / Economy

Report: US Boosted by Digital Trade, but Barriers Remain

FILE - The new Google Nexus 7 tablet, made by Asus is displayed during a Google special event at Dogpatch Studios in San Francisco, California, July 24, 2013.
FILE - The new Google Nexus 7 tablet, made by Asus is displayed during a Google special event at Dogpatch Studios in San Francisco, California, July 24, 2013.
Reuters
A new U.S. government report on Thursday highlighted both the growing importance of digital trade to the United States and a long list of trade barriers that American internet and other online companies face around the world.
 
“The increase in digital trade is having a significant impact on the U.S. and global economy,” the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) said in the first of two reports on the issue requested by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus at the urging of Senator Ron Wyden, both Democrats.
 
“This report shows that the digital economy represents an American trade advantage but it also identified barriers that are stifling further growth,” Wyden said.
 
As U.S. trade negotiators pursue free trade agreements in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, “it is important that these barriers are addressed so that U.S. digital trade can reach its full potential as a driving force behind the U.S. economy,” the Oregon senator said.
 
The study comes as the United States is pushing in trade talks to open new markets for leading U.S. internet companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft, which have already helped make the United States the world's largest exporter of digital services.
 
That has become more complicated after revelations that the National Security Agency was mining personal data from top U.S. internet companies including under a secret program named Prism.
 
The Washington-based Information Technology and Innovation Foundation this month estimated U.S. cloud computing providers could lose $21.5 billion to $35.0 billion in revenue over the next three years if foreign customers decide the risk of storing data with a U.S. company outweighed the benefits.
 
The German government responded this week to concerns raised by the Prism surveillance program by agreeing on initial plans to boost European technology companies and make them a more favorable alternative to U.S. peers.
 
In its report, the ITC acknowledged the difficulty of estimating digital trade because of the lack of a standard definition and shortcomings in available data.
 
But U.S. exports of “digitally-enabled” services, one measure of digital trade, totaled $356.1 billion in 2011, a 26 percent increase from $282.1 billion in 2007, covering areas such as financial services, retail services, professional services, healthcare, logistics and education, the ITC said.
 
Europe, with its strong internet infrastructure, is the most important digital trading partner for the United States and is also an important destination for U.S. digital trade-related foreign direct investment, the ITC said.
 
One impediment to increased trade are foreign government  policies that compel digital companies to use local data servers, technology and inputs or that provide procurement preferences for local firms, the report said.
 
Many “localization” requirements are justified on data privacy grounds, and it is often challenging to determine whether they are imposed for that purpose or to favor the country's domestic firms, the ITC said.
 
Different approaches to data privacy protection can also be an obstacle to trade, an issue that U.S. firms hope to address in talks with the 27-nation European Union on the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership pact.
 
In another area, U.S. music, book, software and movie companies view digital piracy of copyrighted material as their biggest obstacle to increased online exports, while “internet intermediaries” such as Google and Facebook are more concerned about foreign laws that could hold them liable for the actions of users on their networks.
 
In one instance, “the Italian government brought a criminal case against several Google executives for a video posted by a YouTube user that showed the bullying of a disabled student, despite the fact that Google had a notice and take-down system in place that resulted in the prompt removal of the video from the site,” the ITC said.
 
U.S. digital companies complain that censorship in countries including China, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia also hurts their business operations, as do restrictive immigration policies and complicated customs procedures, the ITC said.

You May Like

Photogallery Strong Words Start, May End, S. African Xenophobic Attacks

President Jacob Zuma publicly condemned rise in attacks on foreign nationals but critics say leadership has been less than welcoming to foreign residents More

Video Family Waits to Hear Charges Against Reporter Jailed in Iran

Reports in Iran say Jason Rezaian has been charged with espionage, but brother tells VOA indictment has not been made public More

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Action to Stabilize Libya

Amnesty International says multinational concerted humanitarian effort must be enacted to address crisis; decrepit boats continue to bring thousands of new arrivals daily More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9247
JPY
USD
118.78
GBP
USD
0.6657
CAD
USD
1.2190
INR
USD
62.395

Rates may not be current.