Senator Scott Joins Bipartisan Call for White House to Reverse Course on Digital Trade, Stand Up to China & Support American Workers and Human Rights

Bipartisan Coalition Urges President Biden Not to Abandon Global Leadership in Online Rights and Commerce to China and Other Authoritarian Regimes

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) joined Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and a bipartisan coalition of senators in calling on President Biden to reaffirm America’s global economic leadership. They outlined the need to reverse a decision by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to abandon long-held positions at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and 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. 

In addition to Senator Scott, Chairman Wyden and Ranking Member Crapo, the letter was signed by Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), John Barrasso (R-Wy.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), James Lankford (R-Ok.), Angus King (I-Maine), Tedd Budd (R-N.C.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.V.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Krysten Sinema (I-Ariz.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.).

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.

We write to express our concerns with the decision of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to stop supporting key commitments in the e-commerce negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO)—and potentially in other negotiations. 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. 

Read the full letter here.