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US Senate Senate Finance Committee: U.S. Companies Depend on Global Internet

Wyden, Hatch, Rockefeller, Thune: Trans-Pacific Partnership Must Protect Cross-Border Data Flows to Grow Digital Economy

WASHINGTON October 24, 2014 – To ensure the 21st-century digital economy is not stifled by harmful trade barriers, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, with Sens. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., and John Thune, R-S.D., chairman and ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, called on U.S. trade negotiators to ensure cross-border data flows are adequately addressed in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, the senators urged USTR to resist any proposal that would create unnecessary limitations on the cross-border transfer, storage and processing of data, or discriminate against digital trade. The full text of the letter is below.

October 24, 2014

Dear Ambassador Froman:

Cross-border data flows power the twenty-first century global economy.  American companies move data across the global Internet in order to provide digital goods and services to consumers around the world, as well as boost productivity, streamline operations, and facilitate creativity and problem solving to better compete in the global marketplace.  The United States International Trade Commission recently found that the Internet lowers the cost of trade and allows companies to be more efficient, which in turn increases U.S. Gross Domestic Product and employment, raises wages, and generates a digital trade surplus.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations have the potential to produce an agreement that sets a template for high standard, twenty-first century trade agreements.  Accordingly, it is clear that a TPP agreement must include meaningful, clear obligations, enforceable through a strong and effective dispute settlement mechanism, that prohibit unnecessary limitations on the cross-border transfer, storage and processing of data or the physical location of computing infrastructure.  In addition, we urge you to stand firm against efforts by other countries to seek reservations and overly broad exceptions that would undermine these obligations and provide lower levels of protection for trade in digital goods and services as compared to other areas of trade.

We appreciate your efforts to date on this issue.  A TPP agreement that sets strong rules to protect cross-border data flows will ensure that U.S. businesses and consumers will continue to benefit from the opportunities presented by the growing digital economy.

Sincerely,

Ron Wyden, Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance
Orrin G. Hatch, Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Finance

John D. Rockefeller IV, Chairman, Committee on Commerce,  Science, and Transportation
John Thune, Ranking Member, Committee on Commerce,  Science, and Transportation