Posted by Fred Humphries
Vice President of Government Affairs, Microsoft

The passage this week of the bilateral Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) between the U.S. and South Korea, Colombia and Panama puts America one step further on the path towards economic growth and propels the U.S. back into the international trade arena.

The agreements provide Americans with new market access opportunities for U.S. exports of goods and services while implementing new rules and disciplines in key areas such as intellectual property and regulatory due process – issues that are essential to innovation.

We are excited by the increased opportunities these agreements create for our company and our global network of more than 1.3 million partners – mostly small businesses – to innovate, create jobs and build closer ties with Colombia, South Korea and Panama. Microsoft looks forward to working with the Administration and Congress to implement these agreements and benefit from the new provisions which will enhance the competitiveness of U.S. technology companies, large and small, including commitments to provide:

· Duty-free treatment for U.S. exports of digital technology products, including software, along with important principles of non-discrimination that promote e-commerce and eliminate tariffs on IT products.

· Stronger intellectual property protection for software, music, text and videos, coupled with robust enforcement provisions and tools to address online piracy.

· Significant commitments to improving transparency and regulatory due process aimed at addressing trade barriers, improving the business climate in these markets, and promoting fair competition.

· Expanded opportunities to participate in Colombia, Panama and South Korea’s government procurement markets.

· An improved competitive environment for a range of IT-related services, including provisions that will enable U.S. companies to provide services over the Internet.

These world-class agreements will help us look to the future and set a very high bar for future trade agreements, including, notably, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We also look forward to working on new initiatives to liberalize global trade, and strengthen international economic ties. Many of the provisions in the FTAs set an important baseline of commitments that should be extended to others in the Asia-Pacific.

We are grateful for the hard work of the U.S. government interagency negotiating team led by USTR that worked tirelessly on these FTAs. Now, we are ready to press ahead with the next set of challenges to ensure that trade supports economic growth and innovation.