The U.S. Must Resume Digital Trade Negotiations

WCIT expresses deep concern over the recent decision by the U.S. to withdraw from digital trade negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO). This move, which U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said aims to provide Congress with room to regulate big tech firms, has significant implications for the economy, both in the Northwest and throughout the United States.

Digital trade is an integral part of our economy, contributing more to our GDP than financial or merchandise flowsi. It accounted for $941 billion in 2021ii. It is reshaping how companies connect across borders, creating new ways for businesses of all sizes to reach new markets and customers. In the Northwest, digital trade is a vital part of our economic fabric, with a significant impact on our region’s prosperity.

It goes beyond technology companies, hobbling access to international markets for American farmers, ranchers, service providers, and manufacturers, and it undermines U.S. interests in both current and future negotiations.

The decision to withdraw from these negotiations could put U.S. firms at a disadvantage, potentially hindering our ability to compete in the global digital marketplace by legitimizing digital protectionism. It also contradicts the mission of the USTR as delegated by Congress. As Senator Wyden stated, “a win for China, plain and simple. USTR’s unilateral decision to abandon any leverage against China’s digital expansionism, and to oppose policies championed by allies like Australia, Japan, the U.K. and Korea, directly contradicts its mission as delegated by Congress.iii

It is critical for the U.S. to continue to negotiate on digital trade. By doing so, we can address new and emerging trade barriers, protect our intellectual property rights, and ensure a fair and competitive digital marketplace. This is particularly important in light of policies that are seeking to limit the United States’ long-standing and well-deserved leadership in digital innovation and products.

We urge the Northwest Congressional Delegation and the Biden Administration to take actions to return to the negotiating table on digital trade. We must resume digital trade negotiations.

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