The United States is the fourth friendliest country in the world for global cloud interoperability, according to a new study from the Business Software Alliance. But, the organization said a "patchwork" of laws and regulations around the world is holding back cloud adoption internationally.

In a ranking of the 24 countries that account for 80% of the world's information and telecommunication technology, the BSA found that Japan, with its comprehensive privacy protections, robust IT infrastructure and strong intellectual property standards, is the top nation for an integrated cloud marketplace.

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"Right now, too many countries have too many different rules standing in the way of the kind of trade in digital services we really need," BSA President and CEO Robert Holleyman said. The BSA is a trade group for some of the world's largest software companies.

Rounding out the top five nations behind Japan for supporting an international cloud marketplace were Australia, Germany, the U.S. and France.

Near the bottom of the list were some of the world's emerging economies, including China, India and Brazil, which the BSA said are countries that "have the most work to do to integrate themselves into the global cloud market."

The BSA ranked the 24 countries based on data privacy, intellectual property rights, technology interoperability and IT infrastructure, among other measuring points. The full list can be found here.

BSA's thesis in the study is that standards are needed to expand global adoption of the cloud and allow for easier transfer of data across international borders.

To that end, the BSA proposed a seven-point "blueprint" of how to achieve that. Goals include: protecting users' privacy while enabling the free flow of data; promoting cyber security; enforcing cybercrime; providing protection against infringement of cloud technologies; encouraging interoperability among cloud providers; promoting free trade and creating incentives for private businesses to invest in broadband infrastructure.

Network World staff writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing and social media. He can be reached at [email protected] and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.