April 28, 2020

WASHINGTON – Today, global tech trade association ITI highlighted the opportunity a modern and comprehensive trade agreement between the United States and Kenya could create for innovation and global competitiveness. In comments submitted to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) on the United States-Republic of Kenya Trade Agreement negotiations, ITI encouraged negotiators to develop a digital trade chapter that breaks new ground and sets a new benchmark for facilitating inclusive trade in the digital era between developed and developing countries.

“At a time when barriers to digital trade are proliferating and a wide range of economies – both developed and developing – are engaged in the negotiation of digital trade commitments at the WTO, the initiation of negotiations with Kenya is timely,” ITI wrote. “Through this trade agreement, the U.S. can demonstrate that, beyond facilitating trade, investment and connectivity, high-standard digital trade provisions can drive development and improve standards of living. In doing so, the U.S. is poised to craft a new standard model for agreements with additional countries in Africa and developing countries around the world.”

ITI encouraged the USTR to build on the successes of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement’s (USMCA) Digital Trade Chapter by incorporating essential principles of digital trade while exploring additional ways to encourage American exports, including measures to:

  • Strengthen bilateral data flows and prohibit data localization;
  • Prohibit tariffs and customs formalities on electronic transmissions and enshrine non-discriminatory treatment of digital products;
  • Ensure protection of personal data, taking into account best international practices for privacy and interoperability;
  • Strengthen and expand good regulatory practices for digital trade, including as a means to promote emerging technologies like artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning;
  • Promote risk-based cybersecurity and vulnerability disclosure in alignment with international standards;
  • Prohibit requirements to disclose source code, algorithms, and proprietary information relating to cryptography;
  • Establish limitations to intermediary liability for users and suppliers of interactive computer services to support and safeguard digital supply chains;
  • Facilitate access to and use of open public data in minable, machine-readable formats to spur adoption of AI and other emerging technologies; and
  • Enshrine acceptance of electronic contracts, signatures and authentication.

In addition to digital trade, ITI offered recommendations for strong, modern commitments in areas including capacity building and technical assistance, encouraging USTR to work with interagency partners and Kenyan counterparts to identify areas in which continued technical assistance from the U.S. government could aid Kenya in building capacity and crafting world-class technology policy. Other recommendations address:

  • Regulatory Compatibility;
  • Technical Barriers to Trade;
  • Services and Goods Market Access;
  • Taxation;
  • Customs and Trade Facilitation;
  • Electronic Payment Services;
  • Competition Policy;
  • Intellectual Property; and
  • Government Procurement.

Read ITI’s full comments here.

Public Policy Tags: Trade & Investment