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NFTC Releases Policy Brief on “Charting New Pathways for the WTO”
Date: 4/15/2016
Written By: Jennifer Cummings, The Fratelli Group for NFTC, (202) 822-9491

Washington DC – Today, the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) released a new policy brief on "Charting New Pathways for the WTO." The brief outlines the U.S. business community's priorities for the World Trade Organization (WTO), including the pursuit of a digital trade agenda and a micro, small and medium-sized business agenda.

"This is an exciting time in Geneva," said Jake Colvin, NFTC Vice President for Global Trade Initiatives and Executive Director of its Global Innovation Forum. "There is a new opportunity to align business and development interests at the WTO around policy agendas that ensure access to the digital economy and support the competitiveness of small businesses and entrepreneurs in the global trading system."

In the brief, NFTC details how WTO members could align development and business interests to facilitate access to the global marketplace around new small business and digital trade agendas.

The brief outlines how the WTO could build on existing disciplines to improve the global digital economy, including by:

  • Ensuring a default of openness in information flows and that businesses can provide digital services on a cross-border, non-discriminatory basis;

  • Guiding the development of best practices around national data privacy, security, lawful access to information and other issues that impact the digital economy in ways that regulate appropriately in the interest of the public good without hindering access to the global digital marketplace, being more trade restrictive than necessary, or creating unnecessarily divergent or conflicting rules; and

  • Defining appropriate protections for Internet intermediaries; among other recommendations.
The NFTC also suggests priorities for a micro, small and medium-sized business WTO work plan to achieve objectives including:
  • Deepen transparency initiatives to ensure that regulations and procedures are easily understood and accessible, including provisions for single portals for access to regulations and required filings;

  • Further improve physical trade lanes, including by facilitating the transit of the low-value, low-risk packages that characterize many micro and small business' shipments through expedited procedures and increase of de minimis thresholds; digitizing customs forms and procedures; maximizing market access for transportation and logistics services providers; and improving market access for goods; and
  • Address standards and conformity assessment issues to ensure that rules and regulations are compatible across economies; among other priorities.
"Today's global economy demands modernized trade rules for the 21st century and beyond, and there is an opportunity for creating new pathways for the world's economies at the WTO," said NFTC President Bill Reinsch. "Technology and innovation have transformed the way the world does business, and it is time for world trade rules to reflect this reality and its implications for global commerce."



About the NFTC

Serving America's Global Businesses Since 1914 - The National Foreign Trade Council ( is a leading business organization advocating an open, rules- based global trading system. Founded in 1914 by a broad-based group of American companies, the NFTC now serves hundreds of member companies through its offices in Washington and New York.Follow us on: