Objective 1.1

Ease of movement of people, capital, services and data across borders

The Government and industry agree that the ease of movement of people, capital, services and data with key trading partners is a priority for our trade agenda.

Australia’s services industry emphasised that many services exports involve the movement of people across national borders to undertake work, in person, in foreign markets. Barriers to the temporary movement of people is a key constraint for services exporters. In addition, regulatory and technical barriers to the provision of advisory services using information technology platforms is also a constraint. In particular, supplying professional services to different markets can be unnecessarily complicated by local requirements, which do not recognise Australian professional licenses, registration or membership.

In overseas markets, varied local financial regulations add considerable complexity for financial services exporters. Industry stressed it is important for Australia to continue to work closely with foreign regulators, including through capacity building initiatives, to ensure regulations are not unnecessarily burdensome and meet trade agreement commitments.

Technology is changing the nature of trade and COVID-19 has accelerated these shifts. In particular, digital technologies and cross-border data flows are playing an increasingly important role as key enablers of Australian services exports.

Industry highlighted that restrictions to cross-border data flows add to operational costs and can severely affect business models. Various countries require data to be stored, and in some cases processed, locally. This limits opportunities and can pose data security issues for exporters. It also limits competition and choice by consumers.

The expansion of global digital platforms has changed the way people access copyright material like music, video games and film. Industry representatives noted Australia is highly regarded for copyright administration with multinational publishers choosing Australia as a hub to deliver services to Asia. Closer alignment between Australia’s copyright framework and regulation in Asia would further boost our competitiveness, create opportunities for publishers and improve safeguards for Australian content producers.

The Government actively supports ambitious regional and global benchmarks on digital trade. We understand the importance of enabling service suppliers to transfer information across borders in their business activities and to choose where information is stored. Our aim is to balance support for data innovation with personal data protection to realise the benefits of the digitalisation of the global economy.

To achieve this, Australia is chairing e-commerce negotiations with 85 members at the WTO. Our free trade negotiations with the European Union and the United Kingdom are pursuing the highest quality commitments on digital trade.

We are establishing cooperative bilateral arrangements that enable closer and stronger collaboration between governments, financial regulators and industry, particularly in FinTech.

The Government promotes the cross-border trade of financial services and products in our region. We lead capacity-building projects and are supporting the development of an Asia region funds management industry through the Asia Region Funds Passport. We support work by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) to influence standards and enter into regulatory arrangements that facilitate the cross-border provision of financial services.

We work with Australia’s professional bodies to help professionals meet local requirements in foreign countries through mutual recognition arrangements. We use our free trade agreements to secure market access and encourage export markets to adopt pathways that give our professionals the right to practise for a limited duration or in a limited capacity with no, or few, additional requirements.

We are active in promoting effective and balanced protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights that encourages innovation and creativity, facilitate trade and investment, and strike a balance between the legitimate interests of rights holders, users, and the public interest. We are advancing these issues through free trade agreement negotiations and multilateral and regional forums and organisations such as the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

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