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NAM to White House: Reverse WTO Withdrawals

The U.S. has withdrawn several critical proposals made by the previous administration concerning World Trade Organization digital trade negotiations, Reuters (subscription) reports.

  • The move is a troubling one for U.S. innovation and competitiveness, the NAM told the White House Tuesday.

What’s going on: “U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai has dropped longstanding U.S. digital trade demands … insisting that WTO e-commerce rules allow free cross-border data flows and prohibit national requirements for data localization and reviews of software source code.”

  • The withdrawals were made in Geneva last month during a WTO meeting.

Why it’s a problem: The retracted proposals supported “core disciplines that advance U.S. innovation and competitiveness, fuel economic growth and support the exchange of knowledge and information necessary to address climate, health and other global challenges,” the NAM, along with more than 30 industry groups, told U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and National Economic Council Director Lael Brainard.

  • Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) said the withdrawal amounts to “a win for China, plain and simple,” that would fortify China’s censorship and government-surveillance internet model.

What should be done: The Biden administration should reverse the withdrawal immediately, the NAM and other groups said.

The last word: “Manufacturers in the U.S. are increasingly innovating and making technological advances that depend on digital trade and information flows, global communication networks and cross-border data flows,” NAM Vice President of International Policy Ken Monahan wrote in a social post this week.

  • “Digital trade and e-commerce measures imposed by foreign countries undermine the global competitiveness of manufacturers in the U.S. and their ability to sustain and grow manufacturing through reaching new customers outside our borders.”
  • “The U.S. must return to its role as the global leader in writing digital trade and other rules in support of the global trading system.”
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