EU and US set out plans for ICT trade with third countries

Joint plans would give more opportunities to EU and US tech service providers

The E.U. and the U.S. have reached a joint agreement on how to handle trade of information and communication technology with third countries.

The European Commission and the U.S. government have set out 10 fundamental principles for trade in information and communication technology (ICT) services. The principles will support the global development of ICT networks, allowing other countries to benefit from lower and more competitive prices for services as well as access to a wider range of technologies, E.U and U.S. officials said. Such cooperation could increase the level of digital literacy in third countries and reduce the digital divide, say those involved.

The plan would also see European and U.S. service providers competing for contracts with local incumbents on an equal footing with no requirement to use local infrastructure for ICT services. For example in many non-E.U. countries, European satellite providers are allowed to deliver services only once the capacity of the national satellites is exhausted. Application of the new E.U.-U.S. principle would change this.

"These principles, which both the E.U. and the U.S. will seek to incorporate in their trade agreements with other countries, will help to ensure that trade rules are used as an effective tool to open up ICT markets worldwide to the benefit of all businesses and consumers," said European Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes on Monday.

The principles also promote transparency, open networks, flows of cross-border information, efficient and non-discriminatory use of radio spectrum and independence of regulatory authorities overseeing ICT services.

ICT service suppliers would also have the right to interconnect with other service providers for access to publicly available telecommunications networks and services. Public telecom services suppliers would be able to negotiate and obtain interconnection with major suppliers at cost-oriented, non-discriminatory and transparent rates.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

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