Global IT trade barriers threaten cloud, software providers

By Kenneth Corbin, CIO |  Cloud Computing

Chinese authorities, for instance, have undertaken an effort to modernize that country's standards which, in some cases, invites conflict with existing standards promulgated by groups like the International Organization for Standardization or the Internet Engineering Task Force.

"What we're seeing in some countries is actually an intrusion in the standards-setting process," said Cheri McGuire, Symantec's vice president of global government affairs.

At the same time, McGuire warned that if the United States is to take an anti-protectionist message into trade talks with other nations, policymakers must make absolutely sure that they are not elevating domestic standards, such as those from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, over international efforts, or backing other restrictive policies.

"We have to be very, very careful I think not to enact similar regulations," she said.

BSA's report includes many other examples of protectionist efforts, including strict licensing regulations for cloud service providers in China that tilt the marketplace toward domestic companies, and rigorous security testing requirements for telecommunications hardware and software in India.

The group, which of late has been highly visible in advocating for anti-piracy measures and other intellectual property protections, is redoubling its focus on trade policy and opposing foreign market restrictions that affect its members.

"Every new trade agreement going forward has to be judged by a digital trade test," Holleyman said.

The protectionist policies can also have a spillover effect, both to other nations that might seek to prop up their own domestic companies in retaliation, and to other industries. Dorothy Dwoskin, Microsoft's senior director of trade policy and strategy, pointed out that the tech sector contributes a tremendous network effect that benefits all other industries that rely on IT services, both at home and abroad.

"We are enablers for the rest of the economy and the global economy," Dwoskin said. "It really is all-encompassing."

Kenneth Corbin is a Washington, D.C.-based writer who covers government and regulatory issues for

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