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U.S. Decision on WTO E-Commerce Talks Today Is a Welcome Step Toward Aligning U.S. Trade Policy With Big Tech Accountability Goals

Washington, D.C. Today, the U.S. government announced its decision to withdraw support for proposals on data flows and source code currently being discussed in World Trade Organization negotiations on e-commerce

Global Trade Watch director Melinda St. Louis issued the following statement in response: 

“In a stinging rebuke to Big Tech’s efforts to protect its monopoly power and sabotage regulation, today’s decision is a welcome change for all of us who want to hold Big Tech accountable. It brings U.S. trade policy in line with President Biden’s AI Bill of Rights and other efforts by the administration and Congress to rein in Big Tech. It is also a major step toward creating the ‘worker-centered trade’ the Biden administration envisions. 

“Katherine Tai foreshadowed this decision last month when she cautioned that, ‘until the United States is able to articulate our own policies in this [digital] area, I got nothing to bring to the table in the international conversation, because I’m just a trade negotiator.’ We congratulate Tai for breaking from the pattern of past U.S. Trade Representatives of both parties by refusing to solidify in a trade pact policy issues that legislators and regulators are currently debating. This encouraging news is consistent with reports that the U.S. has held back from tabling similar controversial digital provisions in IPEF talks. 

“If tech industry lobbyists are hysterical over this decision, it would only further prove that this is the right move for everyone else, who’s tired of Big Tech’s invasive and anti-competitive business practices.”

For background, see the fact sheet from the Digital Trade Alliance on “Understanding the WTO JSI on E-Commerce.”