Vietnam’s Proposed Law on Information Network Security Threatens to Imperil Its ICT Economy

Over the past decade, the information and communications technology (ICT) sector has made significant contributions to Vietnam’s economic growth. However, a proposed new Law on Information Network Security (LONIS)—which would apply onerous licensing and permitting requirements upon millions of ICT products containing cryptographic capabilities—threatens to short-circuit the robust levels of both ICT imports and exports that have underpinned the rapid growth of Vietnam’s ICT sector. Not only that, but LONIS potentially breaches commitments made by Vietnam in its World Trade Organization (WTO) accession report concerning imports of ICT products containing encryption as well as elements of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement protecting trade in encrypted products.

ICT production and consumption have been key pillars in Vietnam’s stellar economic performance, with Vietnamese GDP growing, on average, more than 6 percent annually over the past 15 years. For example, the average annual growth rate of Vietnam’s ICT sector reached 55 percent from 2008 to 2013, while from 2004 to 2014, the percentage of ICT goods exports as a share of Vietnam’s total goods exports increased nine-fold, from 2.7 percent to 27 percent, making ICT goods the country’s largest export sector in

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Innovation Fact of the Week: Indian Farmers Who Planted Flood-tolerant Biotech Rice Increased Yields by 13.5% From 2012 to 2013

(Ed Note: The “Innovation Fact of the Week” appears as a regular feature in each edition of ITIF’s weekly email newsletter. Sign up today.)

Although rice requires wet conditions to grow, it cannot survive being submerged for too long. In the tropics, the unpredictability of flooding poses a massive risk. Because rice farmers plant seeds without knowing how much flooding there will be in the season ahead, they have little control over the impact of floods on their final harvest.

Global warming will only increase the unpredictability and scale of floods in the tropics. Fortunately, advances in biotechnology allow scientists to engineer flood-tolerant varieties of rice. The Swarna-Sub1 variant has seen great success in India, giving rice farmers a means to mitigate flood risk and damage. In 2012 and 2013, economists surveyed a sample of 1,200 Indian farmers and found those who adopted this flood-tolerant variety increased their yields by about 840 pounds per hectare, or 13.5 percent.

Read last week’s Innovation Fact of the Week

Photo Credit: m-louis via Flickr

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Digital Trade on the Hill: Hearing on Expanding U.S. Digital Trade and Eliminating Digital Trade Barriers

Digital trade issues continue to grow in importance to the U.S. economy as people and businesses find new and innovative ways to use data and technology to deliver more goods and services via the Internet. However, the growth in entrepreneurship and innovation so vastly enabled by digital technologies is increasingly threatened by a growing range of digital trade barriers. On July 13, the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade held an important hearing on the growing significance of digital trade to the U.S. economy, the rise of these digital trade barriers, and the ways in which U.S. trade policy, including through the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), can help remove existing—and prevent future—barriers. ITIF Founder and President Robert Atkinson testified, alongside representatives from IBM, the Internet Association, PayPal, and Fenugreen (a tech startup). This post captures a few of the key takeaways.

Digital trade benefits a large segment of the U.S. economy and its workforce. Digital trade and data flows often go unrecognized (as they are often hard to see) for the important role they play in helping U.S. companies and workers, whether from firms big or

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Our Long, National GMO Labeling Nightmare Is Over

Well, maybe not. But we can hope, at least, that the noise going forward will be somewhat reduced. On July 14, the U.S. House voted 306-117 to pass the “so-called” Roberts-Stabenow bill that cleared the Senate the week before by a 63-30 vote. It’s unlikely this will stop all the shouting, but against long odds, Democrats and Republicans forged a bipartisan compromise with bicameral support to quash a classic attempt at rent seeking by a special interest group, in this case strident activists advocating for organic food. The activists’ hope had been to tar and feather genetically improved foods with mandatory labels that would have signaled to consumers that any such foods are inherently suspect. But lawmakers sided instead with the overwhelming majority of scientists in the United States and around the world / who have examined the evidence and found no such thing. So this battle in the culture wars has been clearly lost by the insurgents.

The bill was designed to preempt an ill-considered Vermont law that entered into force on July 1, requiring labels on some foods (i.e., none of those important to local producers) containing

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The Recommendations the UN High-Level Access to Medicines Panel Should Be Making

In November 2015, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon convened a high-level panel tasked with studying the relationship between intellectual property rights (IPRs) and access to medicines. The panel was charged with “review[ing] and assess[ing] proposals and recommend solutions for remedying the policy incoherence between the justifiable [intellectual property] rights of inventors, international human rights law, trade rules, and public health in the context of health technologies.”

Were this a panel pursuing a comprehensive research program considering the complete range of factors impacting access to medicines and incorporating a diverse set of voices representing the patients using and the enterprises producing those medicines; the governments and their health-care systems (public and private) procuring, distributing, and disseminating those medicines; and engaging the viewpoints of a broad range of stakeholders, it could have represented a serious and constructive dialogue toward tackling a significant global health challenge.

But the panel has given the game away from the outset. First, by starting from a position of supposed “policy incoherence” between IP rights, innovation, and affordable access to medicines; and, second, by focusing exclusively on IP as the main determinant of access to medicines. The German

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