Citation[edit | edit source]

Rachel F. Fefer, Shayerah Ilias Akhtar & Wayne M. Morrison, Digital Trade and U.S. Trade Policy (CRS Report R44565) (May 21, 2019) (full-text).

Overview[edit | edit source]

The increase in digital trade raises new challenges in U.S. trade policy, including how to best address new and emerging trade barriers. As with traditional trade barriers, digital trade constraints can be classified as tariff or nontariff barriers. In addition to high tariffs, barriers to digital trade may include localization requirements, cross border data flow limitations, intellectual property rights (IPR) infringement, forced technology transfer, web filtering, and cybercrime exposure or state-directed theft of trade secrets. China's policies, in particular, such as those on Internet sovereignty and cybersecurity, pose challenges for U.S. companies.

Digital trade issues often overlap and cut across policy areas, such as IPR and national security; this raises questions for Congress as it weighs different policy objectives. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) points out three potentially conflicting policy goals in the Internet economy: (1) enabling the Internet; (2) boosting or preserving competition within and outside the Internet; and (3) protecting privacy and consumers, more generally.

This report discusses the role of digital trade in the U.S. economy, barriers to digital trade, digital trade agreement provisions, and other selected policy issues.

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