Major tech group backs Pacific trade deal

A major tech lobby backed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on Monday, lending its support to the sweeping trade deal ahead of a difficult battle in Congress.

The Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) said that after reviewing the text of the deal released last month, the group believes it would “promote an open, pro-innovation environment for the digital economy globally” and was a “strong rebuke against digital protectionism.”

“After reviewing the agreement, we have decided to support the TPP, because it offers tremendous growth and innovation opportunities for the technology sector and our economy,” said the group’s president, Dean Garfield, in a statement. “In tech, our innovation cycles occur in months, not years. We should not wait, now is the time for TPP.”

ITI represents groups across the tech sector, including Apple, Google and Facebook. Some other tech groups, like the Semiconductor Industry Association and the nine-member Technology CEO Council, have already expressed their support for the accord.

In a statement, Garfield said that ITI would be investing in “shoe leather outreach to knock on the doors of Members of Congress and encourage them to vote ‘yes’ on this opportunity to supercharge our economy in the decades ahead.”

Tech groups tend to favor the accord because of the protections it offers companies who store data in one country for users accessing it in another. ITI also said it supported the deal because it would make it easier for member companies to do business in the Asian countries linked to the deal by removing some tariffs on imports.

“Elimination of these barriers will allow [information and communications technology (ICT)] companies in the United States to provide innovative goods and services to these expanding markets, which will benefit companies of every size and industry that rely on ICT to improve their products, reach new global customers, perform ground-breaking research and solve complex problems,” the group said in a policy position statement.

The endorsement comes as groups in Washington continue to analyze the White House-backed accord — which must be approved by congress.

Its future on Capitol Hill remains uncertain. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said last week that the administration would face “serious problems” if it sent the deal to congress for approval before the November presidential election.

Congress previously gave President Obama streamlined authority over the deal, in a vote that was hotly contested. 

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