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U.S. Chamber of Commerce International Affairs Newsletter..

11 April 2022 Monday

Dear colleagues,
Please find a recently published op-ed in Fortune Magazine authored by U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs Myron Brilliant. The op-ed makes the case that the U.S. has fallen behind on trade but is well-positioned to exercise leadership by engaging in digital trade negotiations to set binding and enforceable rules that benefit the digital economy.
This op-ed builds upon the The Digital Trade Revolution: How U.S. Workers and Companies Can Benefit from a Digital Trade Agreement, a Chamber report showing how digital trade has the potential to benefit millions of Americans working in a wide range of sectors, including many far removed from what are generally thought of as “digital companies.” The report includes 50 state fact sheets that show the footprint of the digital trade economy across the country. It also discusses the rise of digital protectionism worldwide and policy recommendations to address that threat.
John Murphy
Senior Vice President for International Policy
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
It’s time for a digital trade agreement
By Myron Brilliant
It is no secret that the U.S. has fallen behind on trade. While other nations have been racing to sign mutually beneficial trade agreements with one another, the U.S. has not entered into an agreement with a new trade partner in a decade.
This lack of progress is not due to a lack of opportunity. U.S. exports are no longer limited to physical goods and services and digital trade remains an opportunity with tremendous untapped potential. Over the past decade, sales of services that can be exported digitally from the U.S.–such as software and computer services, audiovisual, consulting, engineering, and financial services–have more than doubled.
However, global barriers to U.S. services exports are also on the rise. Due to other nations’ protectionist and discriminatory digital rules, many of which unfairly target American businesses, the U.S. has fallen behind.
The Biden administration must not overlook this prime opportunity for American leadership. It is time for the U.S. to negotiate a digital trade agreement.
Even before COVID-19, the U.S. digital economy, valued at $2 trillion in 2019, was growing almost three times faster than the broader economy. The pandemic has accelerated this shift to digital trade. In 2020, the U.S. exported $84 billion in information and communications technology services, nearly as much as U.S. exports of aerospace products.
Businesses in every state and sector are participating in the digital economy, including many in sectors that were not traditionally viewed as digital goods and services exporters. Many of these industries contribute to the nearly two-thirds of the U.S. digital economy that now consists of digital services, not digital goods.
These opportunities, coupled with the challenge posed by new digital trade barriers, lend urgency to the idea of an enforceable digital trade agreement. When negotiating such an agreement, it is critical that the U.S. push forward a vision that builds on American strengths, prioritizes U.S. workers, and makes sure the United States leads in creating the industries of tomorrow.
For instance, any digital trade agreement should guarantee the ability to move data freely across international borders. The free flow of data is essential to allow companies of all sizes to access the global market. Data localization measures jeopardize the ability of companies large and small to take advantage of digital trade.
Digital trade negotiations should begin with what the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has called the “Digital Dozen.” This group includes established markets like Australia and the UK, as well as emerging markets such as Malaysia and Vietnam. Combined, these economies accounted for nearly 80% of U.S. exports of digitally tradeable services.
As the Biden administration looks to define its trade agenda, it has an opportunity to lock in American leadership on digital trade. It is time for our trade policy to catch up to the 21st century's economy.

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