Executive Briefings

The U.S. Dominates the World of Big Data. But Nafta Demands Could Put That at Risk.

In the nearly 10 hours that it takes a Boeing 737 to fly from Sao Paulo to New York, its twin engines will transmit a flood of digital data roughly equivalent to 15,000 Blu-ray movies.

That electronic Niagara provides a continuous readout on the jet’s performance, giving ground-based technicians a head start on unanticipated repairs and reducing costly down time.

This is a corner of the global economy where the United States is unmistakably dominant: the trade in digital services such as “big data,” cloud computing, and streaming video.

Now, President Trump’s trade policy may be risking U.S. dominance in the data-rich industries of the future in a bid to protect the metal-bending businesses of the past.

China, Russia, the European Union and other nations are erecting barriers to the free flow of data that companies increasingly sell as a product or use as a tool. Those obstacles threaten roughly $400bn of annual U.S. exports and the bottom line of companies like IBM, Citibank, Federal Express and Visa.

To combat such digital protectionism, the Trump administration wants to “modernize” the 23-year old North American Free Trade Agreement to prevent U.S. trading partners from requiring that data be processed or stored within their borders. Such measures create the equivalent of gated Internet communities, hurting U.S. companies, driving up technology costs and crimping economic growth.

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That electronic Niagara provides a continuous readout on the jet’s performance, giving ground-based technicians a head start on unanticipated repairs and reducing costly down time.

This is a corner of the global economy where the United States is unmistakably dominant: the trade in digital services such as “big data,” cloud computing, and streaming video.

Now, President Trump’s trade policy may be risking U.S. dominance in the data-rich industries of the future in a bid to protect the metal-bending businesses of the past.

China, Russia, the European Union and other nations are erecting barriers to the free flow of data that companies increasingly sell as a product or use as a tool. Those obstacles threaten roughly $400bn of annual U.S. exports and the bottom line of companies like IBM, Citibank, Federal Express and Visa.

To combat such digital protectionism, the Trump administration wants to “modernize” the 23-year old North American Free Trade Agreement to prevent U.S. trading partners from requiring that data be processed or stored within their borders. Such measures create the equivalent of gated Internet communities, hurting U.S. companies, driving up technology costs and crimping economic growth.

Read Full Article