With 50% of the world’s data flows occurring between the EU and US, this element of TTIP is just as important as the trade in physical goods. Cross-border data flows are a form of trade, they are services or goods that can be purchased and delivered online. This can include a range of services from finance to consulting, from software and apps to intellectual property rights, this is a burgeoning area and field that is crucial to TTIP.
When the flow of data is made easier businesses find it cheaper to work internally. Businesses can reduce their communication costs by roughly 26%. It will also allow for more efficient delivery of services online be it advice or consultation. By 2018, on average 88% of all mobile phones in the US and the EU will be ‘smart’ phones, therefore data becomes paramount for communication.
As the EU Commission outlines its plans for a Digital Single Market, it is important to consider transatlantic digital trade. For an Small and Medium Sized Enterprise (SME) the ability to reach a global market with ease through free data flows is invaluable. An online SME has a survival rate of 54% compared to an offline business with just a 24% chance. Therefore for businesses to survive if not grow, this is an element that needs to be strongly embedded in the TTIP agreement.
Data is an area that rightfully draws a lot of concern and attention in Europe. One of the largest divides that has opened up between the US and the EU in recent times has been with regards to privacy and data ownership. It is therefore important that whilst TTIP includes provisions to ease the flow of data it must also provide the necessary clauses on managing data diligently with due care for privacy and human rights.