Rebranded NAFTA Gets Some Good Marks From Tech

Tech players seemed to be generally upbeat about the new version of the North American Free Trade Agreement among the U.S., Canada and Mexico—Canada signed on over the weekend—which was rebranded the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

White House officials speaking on background said the agreement includes groundbreaking IP protections and unprecedented digital trade provisions. They said the digital side included an ambitious commitment to data localization and cross-border data flows.

Mexico gets top billing over Canada in the name, which is appropriate since the agreement was reached initially by the U.S. and Mexico, with the Trump Administration signaling it would welcome Canada, but was also willing to make it a bilateral agreement, which was the President's preferred deal anyway.

"President Trump is making strong progress on reworking our trade agreements to support U.S. industries, said Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Technology Association. "The new NAFTA supports America's innovation by reducing barriers to digital trade, preventing discrimination of America's online payment platforms and eliminating technical barriers to trade. We urge USTR to add guidelines on a balanced approach to copyright so that Congress may vote quickly on this pro-tech trade deal."

“SIIA is particularly pleased with the cross-border data flow obligations, the protections for source code/algorithms, and the recognition that the APEC Cross-Border Privacy Rules system is a valid mechanism to facilitate cross-border information transfers while protecting personal information," said Software & Information Industry Association VP Mark MacCarthy. “With $1.2 trillion in trade at stake, this deal is extremely important. It demonstrates the importance of working with friends and allies and also strengthens America’s hand as it seeks to change Chinese trade and investment practices.We congratulate the Administration for this success and look forward to explaining our views to the Congress as it considers approval for the USMCA.”

"Since the beginning of these negotiations, we have viewed them as an opportunity to modernize the terms of our trade relationship with Canada and Mexico with strong digital trade and pro-innovation rules," said TEchNet, a consortium of tech senior execs. "We are pleased that the U.S., Canada, and Mexico have reached an agreement on a new trade deal that better accounts for the transformative changes that have occurred in the U.S. and global economy since 1994, particularly in the area of digital trade. In the coming days, we will be closely reviewing the details of this new pact."

The President tweeted about the deal Monday (Oct. 1).


The U.S. and Canada will sign the deal at the end of November, the White House indicated—Mexico has already agreed to its end of the bargain, and it will be submitted to Congress for action after the first of the year.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.