Computer & Communication Industry Association
PublishedOctober 25, 2023

CCIA Response to USTR Retreat From U.S. Leadership at WTO E-commerce Negotiations

Washington — Today, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced that it will no longer be supporting certain proposals at the World Trade Organization in the ongoing e-commerce negotiations. Specifically, USTR is reversing U.S. policy on trade rules on cross-border flow of data, data localization, and protection of source code–core trade rules, one of which the United States and close trade partners have adhered to for 25 years. Launched in 2017 with strong U.S. support, the Joint Statement Initiative on Electronic Commerce has grown to bring together 90 WTO members to negotiate global rules governing digital trade, and is now one of the few active negotiations at the WTO. 

The Computer & Communications Industry Association has advocated for the free flow of data and digital trade agreements for over 50 years, and has been strongly supportive of the WTO process since its inception. 

The following can be attributed to CCIA Vice President for Digital Trade Jonathan McHale:

“The United States has led the world in the development of robust trade rules that facilitated exports and jobs they support –– for most of recent history. Ensuring that digital markets are open and free of undue restrictions has been a natural outgrowth of that legacy, and one that our trade partners welcomed. The decision of USTR to cede this leadership by pulling back from negotiating key digital rules at the WTO is a major disappointment. 

“The rules that USTR has decided to distance itself from in these discussions have been core to U.S. trade interests since the inception of the internet. These rules support all services, regardless of size or sector, operating abroad. Domestic regulations addressing consumer harm or societal welfare, including in the tech sector, can coexist with these trade rules—as they have for decades.”

“Failure of the U.S. in rejoining its patterns in negotiating the key rules will leave U.S. businesses, workers, and consumers worse off as more restrictive visions of digital trade—whether protectionist or authoritarian—would be given the space to proliferate.”

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