October 25,2023

Wyden Statement on Ambassador Tai’s Decision to Abandon Digital Trade Leadership to China at WTO

Washington, D.C.— Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden blasted the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative’s decision today to abandon support for key digital trade principles, principles 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 businesses large and small. Contrary to claims by the Trade Representative’s office, this decision was made with virtually zero consultation with Congress or the Finance Committee, and USTR failed to propose any alternative to longstanding U.S. policies.

“USTR’s decision to walk away from the negotiating table in Geneva is a win for China, plain and simple,” Wyden said today. “In addition to abandoning our democratic allies in these negotiations, USTR is leaving a vacuum that China—an active participant in these negotiations--will be more than pleased to fill. USTR’s action today is a win for the Chinese government’s efforts to have unlimited access to U.S. data, a win for Chinese tech giants who want to bully smaller countries into following the Chinese model of internet censorship, and a win for China’s Great Firewall, which locks out American companies and locks Chinese citizens into a repressive regime of government surveillance. The U.S. can regulate companies operating in America without giving a green light to the malign efforts of China, Russia, and others who want to mine data for economic and security benefits, censor citizens at home and abroad, and abuse human rights.

“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. It may be time to reconsider the degree of that delegation going forward.”