US senators call for reflection on digital trade deal via APEC

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The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Friday called for pursuing the possibility of a digital trade deal through a forum of Pacific economies as the US could fall behind China by falling behind. initiative to draft key trade rules in the region. .

“We are writing to urge you to use and work with the Asia-Pacific economic cooperation … the committee,” said in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Photo taken on July 30, 2021, shows the United States Capitol in Washington. (Kyodo)

Among the priorities that President Joe Biden‘s administration should work on with other APEC peers, including countries like Japan and Australia, is promoting a “common set of technology standards, including the possibility of a digital trade deal, ”the two said.

The letter also called for improving the efficiency of semiconductor and cybersecurity supply chains, as well as advancing cooperation that reduces barriers to cross-border investment in emerging markets.

The senators’ appeals came as China steps up trade diplomacy in the region, asking in September to join a Pacific free trade agreement currently known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, including the United States. United withdrew in 2017.

The agreement, involving 11 countries such as Japan and Australia as well as the United States, was to act as a counterweight to China’s growing economic weight. But former President Donald Trump described it as a “job-destroying” arrangement.

The United States is also not part of a mega trade deal involving 15 Asia-Pacific countries, including China, Japan and South Korea, which was signed in November. Beijing, meanwhile, said in November it had asked to join a deal between Singapore, Chile and New Zealand to collaborate on digital trade.

While many experts in the United States believe it will be difficult to win a majority in Congress for a comprehensive free trade agreement anytime soon, concerns are growing that the United States is giving way to China in the trade rule-making efforts.

A group of Republican lawmakers on the Senate Finance Committee also sent a letter in November to Biden asking the administration to begin digital trade negotiations with American allies and partners in Asia to establish “high-quality rules” in the region.

Digital rules should be crafted to reflect American values, for example by ensuring the free flow of data, promoting cybersecurity, protecting human rights and fighting censorship, they said.

APEC brings together Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan , Thailand, United States and Vietnam.


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