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By Kyle Daly
The technology industry is cautiously optimistic about efforts from Congress and the Trump administration to rework the tax code and U.S. trade policy, Dean Garfield, president and CEO of tech trade group the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), told Bloomberg Law in a recent video interview.
“It’s going to be incredibly hard,” Garfield said of the chances that policymakers execute planned tax and trade changes. “From our perspective, it’s probably a little bit better than 50/50. But those odds will increase to the extent we come to terms with the difficult road that’s ahead and put in the hard work to get it done.”
Congress is now working on legislation that would update the tax code by lowering corporate tax rates, among other proposed changes. President Donald Trump has spoken at length about reworking a number of U.S. trade agreements and the nation’s overall framework for trade policy. Officials from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico are now in the midst of talks on potentially updating or replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
ITI represents a large number of tech companies including Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc., Facebook Inc., eBay Inc., Alphabet Inc.'s Google, and Microsoft Corp. Garfield said his group hopes to see changes to the tax code, such as establishing a rate of taxation that will make it appealing for tech companies and others to repatriate dollars now held overseas. American corporations now have about $2.6 trillion in cash stored overseas, according to research firm Capital Economics.
ITI also wants to see trade pacts like NAFTA and the United States–Korea Free Trade Agreement explicitly acknowledge and accommodate changes in technology as the Trump administration looks to renegotiate them.
Tax and trade are just two of a number of policy priorities for tech companies, Garfield said. The group also wants to see federal policies encourage consumer access to technology and modernize the government’s information technology systems. The government spends $80 billion annually on technology, and ITI wants to “make sure those dollars are spent effectively,” Garfield said.
Tech companies also want to see the government heighten its efforts to work with the private sector to advance best practices and thwart bad actors as artificial intelligence (AI) becomes more sophisticated and pervasive, Garfield said. ITI has seen a “great willingness” from government agencies and officials to do so, he said.
ITI recently released a document outlining its policy principles in the field of AI. The group wants to see federal support for AI research and development, robust cybersecurity protections, and partnerships with the private sector on other issues like safety.
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The video is available at: https://www.bna.com/iti-ceo-dean-m73014471774/
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