Trade barriers have now also made their entrance in the digital world. This could make it more difficult for companies to share data across national borders, shows a new analysis from the Confederation of Danish Industry.More and more countries have started to demand that data be locally stored and processed.

This is the case in e.g. Russia, China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Germany, all of which are demanding in different areas that data collected within their borders not be sent out of the country but stored on local servers.

According to a new analysis from the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI), the extent of digital trade barriers is drastically expanding and threatens the possibilities for Danish companies to fully benefit from the digital development. Danish companies thereby risk not being able to take advantage of the potential for growth and revenue located in the digital economy.

“The digital trade barriers can make it difficult for Danish companies to send data across national borders. At the same time, the development can also hamper Denmark’s ability to attract investments from large IT companies such as Facebook and Apple, which we’ve had success with recently,” says Director of DI Digital Adam Lebech. He adds:

“We have excellent conditions for the location of data centres in Denmark, but this requires the free flow of data across national borders.”

Wind data from Vestas

Danish windmill manufacturer Vesta is one of the many companies that takes advantage of the possibilities for sending data across national borders.

”With 60 billion measurements a day from windmills all across the world – and with more than ten years of work with big data – data and its transfer is a central part of Vestas’ activities,” says Director of Plant Applications Rasmus Tarp Vinther.

Until now, the increasing number of data localisation demands has not had a negative effect on the windmill manufacturer. But there is no doubt that Vestas would prefer that data be able to freely travel across national borders, emphasises Rasmus Tarp Vinther.

”With windmills in 75 countries on six continents and given the way in which we use data, we would naturally prefer not to have any form of limitations on data transfer.”

Data protectionism is about jobs

EU parliament member Bendt Bendtsen (Danish Conservative People’s Party) is deeply concerned about the rapid growth in the extent of digital trade barriers.

Data protectionism is not so different from other kinds of protectionism. It’s ultimately a matter of countries wanting to protect their own jobs,” says Bendt Bendtsen. He believes that the new kinds of trade barriers will affect Denmark and Danish companies.“We see protectionism everywhere. We need to take a stand against it,” says Bendt Bendtsen, who believes that the EU Commission must rise to the occasion and safeguard the free flow of data.

The Confederation of Danish Industry’s stance is that data must be the EU’s fifth freedom on equal footing with goods, services, capital and workforce.

“If we do not have free data exchange in the EU, we make it harder for Danish and European countries to succeed in the digital economy of the future. The free flow of data is part of the fundament required to ensure that we can fully take advantage of digitalisation,” says Adam Lebech.

Source: DI

Image: Fotosearch