U.S. Business Associations Urge USTR To Tackle Cyber Issues In TTIP

From: Inside US Trade

U.S. high technology and business associations are urging the Obama administration to include issues related to cybersecurity in the upcoming Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations with the European Union, according to formal comments submitted to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative last week.

However, Washington-based observers agreed that the extent to which the two sides will really look to tackle these issues in the context of TTIP remains unclear.

According to Bruce Levinson, senior vice president for regulatory intervention at the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness, there is interest on both sides in dealing with “cyber” issues in the upcoming trade talks. But he conceded that it is not always clear what is meant by “cyber” issues, and the variety of “cyber-related” issues raised in public comments on TTIP that were submitted to USTR served to underscore his point.

Possible ideas include closer coordination on responses to cyber attacks; increased information sharing, including in the wake of attacks; new language outlining what constitutes “good behavior” in cyberspace; closer coordination on future cyber-related regulations; joint development of “best practices” for guarding against cyber attacks; efforts to ensure third countries do not use cybersecurity as an excuse to block trade; and better protection of trade secrets.

But several observers noted that one obstacle to an ambitious outcome is that the U.S. and EU frameworks for dealing with cybersecurity are in flux. In particular, both the Obama administration and the European Commission are in the process of working with their respective industries in order to come up with voluntary frameworks that would reduce risks to critical infrastructure by establishing “best practices” for company-level cyber defenses.

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