Momentum is building for the United States to pursue a plurilateral digital trade agreement (or possibly a series of bilateral agreements) with trading partners in the Indo-Pacific region, as part of the Biden administration’s strategy to reengage with the region and counter Chinese economic influence.  This sentiment has been expressed in public statements from U.S. Trade Representative (“USTR”) Tai and National Security Council Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Campbell.  Furthermore, USTR Tai, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Vice President Kamala Harris have all discussed the issue of digital trade with foreign counterparts in the region over the past several months.

In addition to Biden Administration officials, other key stakeholders have announced their support for U.S. participation in a digital trade agreement in the Indo-Pacific.  Key members of Congress as well as allies and partners in the region have expressed interest in a U.S.-led digital trade pact.  U.S. industry also appears to be on board.  For example, more than a dozen industry and business groups – including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Semiconductor Industry Association and the Information Technology Industry Council – wrote a letter to USTR Tai stressing that developing digital trade rules with partners in the Indo-Pacific should be “a critical element” of the U.S. trade agenda, particularly in the face of rising digital protectionist measures globally.  The apparent buy-in from all key actors and stakeholders strongly suggests that a digital trade agreement in the Indo-Pacific is a serious possibility.

This alert discusses what a potential digital trade agreement might look like, based on existing precedent, and also hypothesizes what the alternatives to such an agreement might be.


Continue Reading The US Appears Poised to Pursue a Digital Trade Agreement in Asia – What Does that Mean?