Opinion

You’ll Find Tech-Friendly Trade in the USMCA

International trade has sparked tremendous debate over the past year. From China to Mexico and Canada, trade has dominated the headlines but, too often, has been viewed through a partisan lens. It is time that we use common sense and measure the value of trade deals in dollars and cents.

When it comes to the proposed United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, it is ready for approval by Congress. A sense of urgency lies at the heart of getting the agreement passed as we head into the presidential election cycle.

The costs of not approving the USMCA now would be significant to the country. The tech industry is facing a number of challenges from foreign governments seeking to displace U.S. technology leadership.  Additionally, trading partners are aggressively pursuing trade agreements that will leave American companies on the outside, looking in. We must seize the opportunity to build on our economic and geopolitical ties with our neighbors and support global technology leadership by quickly approving the USMCA.

Technology represents the second-largest category of U.S. exports and continues to expand. Exports of U.S. technology industry products and services grew by $16 billion to an estimated $338 billion in 2018, and directly supported an estimated 858,000 American jobs in 2017. Mexico and Canada account for 33 percent of U.S. tech goods exports and directly support 234,679 U.S. jobs.

The value is clear – trade with Mexico and Canada makes the economy stronger and bolsters U.S. technology leadership globally. Since 2010, U.S. exports of technology added nearly $65 billion in new earnings and aggregate growth of 23 percent. Exports account for approximately $1 in every $4 generated in the U.S. tech sector.

There is no debate that it is time for the modernization of trade rules. The emergence of the internet and software-based applications, products and services over the past two decades has altered the way we manage and enforce intellectual property laws.

The USMCA provides a technology-trade blueprint that can be used to re-shape global trade rules. The USMCA provisions on digital trade and intellectual property are bound to positively affect the growth of U.S. manufacturing and services alike. The commitments that prohibit data localization, enable cross-border data transfers, and protect source code and algorithms will be a driving force of global growth for the U.S. tech industry in the next decade.

The USMCA will lock in commitments made to protect consumers and intellectual property rights, provide cybersecurity cooperation, prevent the imposition of customs duties on digital products, and provide safe harbors against intermediary liability for platforms under identified circumstances.

Further, the USMCA is dedicated to enhancing trade opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises through information-sharing tools and ongoing dialogues to ensure SMEs continue to benefit from the agreement. Thirty state technology associations have implored leaders on Capitol Hill to vote yes on the USMCA.

America’s global technology leadership has fueled economic growth from San Jose to Huntsville to Charlotte. The technology industry now employs more than 7.3 million Americans, accounting for more than an estimated $1.8 trillion in direct output to the U.S. economy.

No matter how you measure economic value, USMCA makes sense (and cents) and should be passed by Congress.

Stefanie Holland is the vice president of federal and global policy for The Computing Technology Industry Association.

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