ITI also urges the United States and the EC to develop model protections for trade secrets in addition to those provided via the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement (TBT) that are submitted to government authorities as a condition of market access (i.e., where the disclosure is linked to the importation and/or sale of goods). Our industry, like others, is concerned with the increasing number of overbroad testing or certification systems and other regulatory schemes being developed by foreign governments that require the disclosure of unnecessary proprietary information. The risk that the required sensitive information will leak to domestic competitors is compounded by the reality that many governments have inadequate procedures to protect such information and some of those governments are focused on increasing indigenous innovation.
Industry recognizes that in certain circumstances, some proprietary product information needs to be provided to governments, including ours, for legitimate health, safety, security and other reasons. In such cases, however, U.S. agencies have detailed procedures to protect confidential business information, which are enforceable against the officials that administer them. T-TIP could seek agreement from the EC and Member States to emulate the principles embedded in such procedures, and set a global standard for other governments to follow.
Collecting societies in a number of Member States of the European Union have been granted the right to charge levies on specific goods to provide compensation to the rights holders of certain copyrighted material that has been subject to private copying. These levies are an outdated method of compensating content rights holders in light of highly effective digital rights management tools. Moreover, copyright levies on digital goods undermine the objectives of the Information Technology Agreement to reduce costs of and expand trade in information technology products. The levies are a prime example of the type of tariffs or duties that should be eliminated through the T-TIP, especially given their negative impact on demand for ICT products that is so critical to increasing the productivity and innovation capability of the transatlantic economy.
Movement of STEM Workers
High-value innovation is increasingly collaborative and cross-border, involving multiple sites, corporate affiliates or other parties, and is especially important when it comes to fostering growth in the digital economy. U.S. and European workers with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees often are involved in transatlantic R&D projects that require regular in-person interaction with employees at other sites. Moreover, U.S. employers should be able to easily hire highly skilled workers from the European Union and vice-versa. Too often, however, visa applications take an unreasonable amount of time to process and these delays restrict important business activities. T-TIP provides an opportunity to modernize the rules guiding workforce mobility for employees with STEM degrees and their employers who are based in the United States and European Union. Simpler and more streamlined immigration policies for employees with STEM degrees will strengthen the U.S.-European relationship and enhance innovation and cooperation between U.S. and European companies.