SEATTLE – Washington State’s status as a global hub of technology and innovation makes it well suited to benefit from the growth of digital trade throughout the world, according to a new report released today by the Washington Council on International Trade (WCIT).
The report, Washington State Digital Trade: Barriers and Opportunities, explores the growth and impact of digital trade on businesses throughout the state. It underscores the importance of e-commerce companies of all shapes and sizes in Washington state that are increasingly using technology to connect with new customers around the world. In addition to highlighting the many opportunities brought on by the growth of digital trade, the report also analyzes some of the key factors preventing the greater flow of goods and services, identifies some issues on the horizon that could complicate progress, and shines a spotlight on recent advances in modernizing our trade agreements to address current issues.
“Washington State has been the source of dramatic changes felt around the world where new international customers for our businesses and farmers are now just a click away. We need to take the steps necessary to ensure our trade policies and agreements keep up with the times so that Washingtonians can reap the full benefits of the digital era,” said Lori Otto Punke, president of WCIT.
The new research paper identifies structural, legal, or regulatory obstacles that often stunt opportunities for digital trade. Many of these barriers, including restrictions on cross border data flows, server localization requirements, customs red tape at borders, uneven liability regimes and forced technology transfer, inhibit or outright block digital products and services. The report also flags other issues related to digital trade, including recent threats from France to impose new taxes on digital services as retaliation for U.S. tariff threats.
“Washington state has been a critical source of digital transformation and creating amazing new opportunities for our businesses and workers. Washington DC and governments around the world have been slow to respond to these dramatic changes,” said Punke. “We hope that through multilateral negotiations and international institutions, we can give our businesses the clarity and stability they need to thrive and grow in this new era.”