Tim Kaine

11/30/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/30/2023 17:59

Kaine, Wyden, Crapo & Colleagues Call on White House to Reverse Course on Digital Trade and Stand Up to China, Support American Workers and Human Rights

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine, Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Mike Crapo (R-ID) called on President Biden to reaffirm America's global economic leadership by reversing a decision by the U.S. Trade Representative to abandon long-held positions at the World Trade Organization (WTO) that allow the free flow of information across borders, protect against the forced transfer of American technology and promote open markets for digital goods exported by American creators and businesses.

The letter is cosigned by Senators Tom Carper (D-DE), Bill Cassidy (R-LA) Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Chris Coons (D-DE), John Barrasso (R-WY), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Charles Grassley (R-IA), James Lankford (R-OK), Angus King (I-ME), Tedd Budd (R-NC), Patty Murray (D-WA), Todd Young (R-IN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Steve Daines (R-MT), Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Ben Cardin, D-MD), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Alex Padilla (D-CA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), James Risch (R-ID), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Tim Scott (R-SC), and Mark Kelly (D-AZ).

For nearly 30 years, the United States, along with democratic allies like the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, Singapore, South Korea and others, have supported the internet and free information flows as an engine of innovation and economic growth and a bulwark against authoritarian regimes that seek to dominate international digital rules. Human rights and free expression advocates such as Freedom House raised concerns that USTR's decision to withdraw support for key positions, without offering any alternatives, gives China, Russia and other repressive regimes an opening to advance policies allowing greater surveillance and censorship. U.S. creators, small businesses and major industries have also warned the USTR move will further China's model for digital protectionism and allow unfair trade practices targeting U.S. employers.

"These commitments reflect bipartisan principles that, until now, the United States has strongly supported across political parties, administrations, and the federal government: an open internet that promotes the flow of information across borders to support American exports and American values. USTR's decision to abandon these commitments at the WTO creates a policy vacuum that China and Russia will fill," the senators wrote.

The WTO e-commerce negotiations have been supported by a wide range of American employers, including manufacturers, automakers, retailers, small businesses, creators in the film, music, and book publishing industries, precision agriculture, logistics and semiconductor sectors.

The senators emphasized that the U.S. can and should advance regulations to protect Americans' privacy and security, and that the WTO principles involving data flows, intellectual property and unjustified data localization are compatible with smart regulation of tech and other industries.

"Retreating from our longstanding principles without offering a viable alternative does not help U.S. workers, it does not help U.S. consumers, it does not help U.S. businesses, and it does not help U.S. allies; it only helps our adversaries," they wrote.

The text of the letter is here.