TPP: A Digital Trade Agreement

Earlier this week, ministers from the 12 Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries announced the completion of negotiations for a comprehensive trade agreement spanning the Asia Pacific region. AT&T operates in nearly all of the TPP countries, from Canada to Chile and from Japan to Australia, providing global business service to enterprises across the world.

TPP is significant for many reasons. It brings higher standards to nearly 40 percent of the global economy. It opens markets and levels the playing field. And, most importantly, it establishes rules of the road for a 21st Century digital economy.

TPP is the first agreement to address issues related to digital trade and Internet-based commerce. Here are highlights from the eCommerce chapter summary.

  • Enabling Cross-Border Data Flows: TPP Parties commit to ensuring the free flow of the global information and data that drive the Internet and the digital economy, subject to narrowly tailored legitimate public policy objectives such as personal information protection.
  • Preventing Data Localization: The 12 Parties also agree to not require that TPP companies build data centers to store data as a condition for operating in a TPP market.
  • Protecting Consumers: TPP Parties agree to adopt and maintain consumer protection laws related to fraudulent and deceptive commercial activities online and to ensure that privacy and other consumer protections can be enforced in TPP markets.
  • Driving Commerce: The 12 Parties agree to cooperate to help small- and medium-sized business take advantage of electronic commerce.
  • Promoting Interoperability: The chapter encourages cooperation on policies regarding personal information protection, online consumer protection, cybersecurity threats and cybersecurity capacity.

The e-Commerce commitments in TPP provide a road map for these issues in future trade agreements. They provide certainty for consumers and businesses, especially for the many small businesses that now rely on eCommerce to sell internationally. The trade commitments on data flows and facilities localization will revolutionize the way we provide services and sell in an ever more interconnected world.

We commend the trade negotiators – including Ambassador Mike Froman and the Staff of the Office of the United States Trade Representative as well as the other U.S. Agencies – for their tireless efforts in driving trade rules that will maintain robust and unimpeded digital trade routes. We look forward to reviewing the full agreement and hope Congress will work to ratify as soon as possible.