This is the second post in our weeklong blog series, Talking Trade: Stories of the Transatlantic Exchange.
By Steve Conlon, Economic Officer at the U.S. Mission to the EU
When we think about trade, we often picture boxes lined up in orderly rows on conveyor belts and big container ships. Trade evokes images of dollar bills and euro coins, of planes and trains and Sunday markets. Trade looks like a physical exchange, or it did at least, for the overwhelming majority of human history.
Over the past few decades, however, the digital economy has turned this notion of an exclusively physical trade on its head. In the 21st century, trade looks like online shopping, virtual books, web-streamed films, and – in the world of modern manufactured goods – global supply chains supported by huge and continuous flows of data across borders. Our means of making payments has shifted from over-the counter transactions to check-depositing apps, online credit card transfers, and Venmo. Most recently, currency itself is moving towards the digital realm, with Bitcoin and other virtual currencies.
Both the United States and the European Union are committed to a robust transatlantic digital marketplace that sparks innovation, fuels economic growth, and allows for the freedom of expression and the free flow of information across borders. Cross-border data flows between the U.S. and Europe, at about 15 terabits per second (that’s a 1 with 12 zeros after it!), are the highest in the world – 50 percent higher than the data flows between the U.S. and Asia.
In addition to being each other’s largest trading partners for digitally deliverable services, the U.S. and the EU are also the two largest net exporters of these services to the world. Furthermore, demonstrating the interconnectedness of our economies, 53 percent of digitally deliverable services imported from the U.S. (including consulting, engineering, design, and financial services) were used in the production of EU exports, and 62 percent of digitally deliverable services imported from the EU were incorporated into U.S. exports. With the rapid growth in mobile computing, the Internet of Things, Big Data analytics, and cloud computing, those data flows are projected to grow substantially over the next decade, to the benefit of new digital companies, established industries, consumers, researchers, and governments on both sides of the Atlantic.
In April, I had the opportunity to participate in the thirteenth annual meeting of the U.S – EU Information Society Dialogue, a summit that provides a platform for the U.S. and the EU to collaborate in developing policies to grow the digital economy. In this dialogue, we held open and vibrant discussions on topics including the EU Digital Single Market strategy, support for innovation, web-entrepreneurship and digital skills, net neutrality, the data-driven economy, and Internet governance.
During this meeting, we compared notes on our evolving policies regarding net neutrality and agreed that we share the same underlying approaches and intent in safeguarding an open Internet. We committed to exploring opportunities for enhanced collaboration and information sharing, including in the area of standards development, as well as expanding our cooperation to support an inclusive, open, and multi-stakeholder approach to Internet governance.
Most importantly, the U.S. and the EU recognize the tremendous benefits to society presented by the digital economy as an engine for economic growth and major advances in research, but also share a commitment to maintaining privacy and security. With these common values in mind, we look forward to continued joint efforts with our EU-partners as we work to further develop the global economy, allow more people around the world to connect and communicate, and protect their freedom online.
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