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ITA Helps Ensure a Level Playing Field for Information and Communication Technology Services in Japan

Friday, May 31, 2013

(ITA)  The Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) helped U.S. ICT services firms compete on equal footing in the $56 billion Japanese ICT market. ITA ensured that these firms were provided opportunities to comment on the development of new Japanese ICT requirements, especially in the area of cloud computing.

Why it Matters

Japan’s $56 billion ICT services market is one of the most important for U.S. exporters of ICT services. Recently agreed upon U.S.-Japan trade principles are expected to help U.S. ICT services firms avoid non-tariff barriers in Japan. In addition, the U.S. Government intends to promote wide adoption of these principles by other countries to support the global development of ICT services, and thereby benefit U.S. exporters.

The Problem

The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan expressed concerns to the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) that Japan could potentially formulate new rules or amend existing rules affecting the evolving ICT field of cloud computing and that all interested parties may not be afforded non- discriminatory opportunities to comment on the development of the new requirements. Such discrimination could have implications under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement, the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement, and the WTO Agreement on Trade in Services and could impede or delay the export of innovative U.S. ICT services to Japan.

The Solution

The Department of Commerce, working closely with USTR, in January 2012, helped produce a set of trade-related principles jointly with the Government of Japan called the United States-Japan Trade Principles for Information and Communication Technology Services. Among the most important of the jointly-agreed principles is that both governments will undertake to ensure all laws, regulations, procedures, and administrative rulings of general application affecting ICT and trade in ICT services are published or otherwise made publicly available, and if possible subject to comment procedures. While the principles do not create any legally binding obligations, both governments intend to promote the implementation of these principles within their bilateral economic relationship and in their trade negotiations with third countries. The principles are expected to help U.S. companies, which are leaders in the field of ICT services, to compete on a level playing field with their foreign rivals.

Working closely with U.S. companies, ITA creates, expands, and defends market access for U.S. goods and services overseas. “We promote policy that develops a more favorable business climate for U.S. companies in global markets; we employ commercial diplomacy to resolve trade barriers; and we leverage our bilateral and multilateral trade agreements to ensure our trading partners live up to their commitments so that our businesses can compete on a level-playing field.” - Assistant Secretary for Market Access and Compliance, Michael C. Camuñez.