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Excluding OTT players from a market = Trade restriction that is a violation of WTO rules

Just before WCIT, Hosuk Lee and I did a rush job that looked at the possibility that the ETNO-inspired efforts to extract rents from OTT players such as Facebook may violate GATS commitments. Now the issue has bubbled up on another front:

When China and other nations block the websites of U.S. companies but the United States doesn’t respond in kind there’s a strong argument that creates an unfair trade barrier, said Andrew McLaughlin, former White House deputy chief technology officer.

He cited the example of Facebook, which is blocked in China, and Renren, a Chinese social networking service colloquially known as the “Facebook of China.” Renren became publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange in 2011.

“At the same time the U.S. sits here and watches Facebook get blocked in China, we allow Renren . . . to come to our capital markets to raise $780 million in an IPO from investors we’re facilitating,” McLaughlin said. “We give them access to our markets; they block us from their markets. That seems like a classic trade barrier and one that the United States should take seriously.”

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