EU and US agree on ICT trade principles

The EU and US government have shaken hands on an agreement to jointly support and promote ICT trade principles between the two blocs. As part of the agreement, ten principles have been agreed on, with the aim of making it easier for IT businesses in Europe and American to compete for contracts globally.

The EU-US Trade Principles for ICT Services will see the pair adhering to agreements on issues including transparency, open networks, cross border data transfer and a more open use of spectrum. On the last point, the document calls for the maximisation of availability and use of spectrum, adding that the allocation of spectrum for commercial purposes should be “carried out in an objective, timely, transparent and non-discriminatory manner, with the aim of fostering competition and innovation.”

Interestingly, in light of recent controversies surrounding Chinese expansion into Western telecoms markets, the European Commission added that governments “should allow full foreign participation in their ICT services sectors, through establishment or other means.”

With EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht stating that the EU-US agreement will help the EU when engaging with other trade partners, one can only assume that this welcome for foreign participation is geared towards heading-off any further discord between the EU and China. In February, China’s Ministry of Commerce was rumoured to be on the verge of taking action against the EU for the latter’s subsidisation of major telecoms infrastructure companies, which China was alleged to believe constituted a breach of WTO rules. The Chinese government has since denied the allegations.

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