AIIA "satisfied" with US trade treaty

The head of Australia's peak ICT industry group today said the free trade agreement struck between US and Australian negotiators overnight appeared to be satisfactory.

The head of Australia's peak ICT industry group today said the free trade agreement struck between US and Australian negotiators overnight appeared to be satisfactory.

Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) chief executive officer, Rob Durie, described what has been revealed to the public about the deal so far as "spin" but said early signs were good for the IT sector.

Federal Cabinet hadn't approved the release of the full draft document until mid-afternoon; earlier today Durie said "if you look at what they're saying about [the ICT sector's] key areas we're reasonably content".

Durie said there had been recognisable improvements in areas that had been of concern to the AIIA, such as access to United State's lucrative federal procurement market.

Under the agreement Australia will be allowed to compete alongside other countries and economic zones given access to the AU$200 billion market under US laws.

In other areas of relevance to the ICT sector, negotiators have agreed not place tariffs or other restrictions prejudicial against electronically traded goods in order to promote e-commerce.

The two trading partners have bilaterally agreed to boost efforts to protect intellectual property. They include the wholesale adoption of all current World Intellectual Property Organisation treaties and a series of measures designed to make life harder for copyright offenders including:

  • the ability to make ISPs accountable to copyright owners for infringing material on the Internet;
  • tighter controls on copyright circumvention tools such as mod-chips;
  • and standard penalties for copyright offenders.

Provisions on telecommunications in the agreement also seemed to take aim at Telstra with the pair agreeing to ensure that major carriers provide infrastructure "on reasonable, non-discriminatory terms and conditions."

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