Washington — A negotiating team led by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has reached an agreement with Mauritius on a set of nonbinding trade-related principles for information and communication technology (ICT) services. The United States and Mauritius will jointly promote the adoption of these principles by other countries.
"I'm pleased to announce another significant milestone in our economic relationship with Mauritius," said U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. "This jointly developed set of principles for the information and communication technology services sector is the first of its kind that the United States has concluded with an African country -- and will lead to increased trade and investment between the U.S. and Mauritius, as well as increased job growth in both countries."
The Office of the USTR said the principles, if widely adopted, would support the global development of ICT services, including Internet and other network-based applications that are critical to innovative e-commerce, Internet search and advertising, data storage, and other services.
The principles address transparency in legislation and regulation; open access to networks and applications; the free flow of information across borders; foreign investment in ICT sectors; facilitating the cross-border supply of services; the efficiency of spectrum allocation; the independence of regulatory authorities; the granting of operating licenses; interconnection between suppliers of basic public telecommunication services; and international cooperation.
The ICT services sector is an increasingly important part of the infrastructure for a host of other industries and sectors, according to the Office of the USTR. The implementation of the principles statement is expected to lead to increased trade and investment between the United States and Mauritius. It will also help spur the worldwide development of services that help workers be more productive, decrease the cost of doing business, promote the growth of new industries, revitalize older industries, and improve the lives of consumers.
The relevance of the new U.S.-Mauritius principles, the Office of the USTR said, is underscored by recent foreign government actions to limit the availability of ICT services, including by placing restrictions on access to spectrum, limiting the number of telecommunications licenses available to foreign service providers, blocking voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) phone calls, and requiring the use of local network infrastructure and servers to deliver services that can be supplied across borders.