Blackburn Leads Letter To Biden Criticizing Digital Trade Decision That Will Harm American Innovators

March 21, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) led her Republican colleagues in a letter to President Biden in opposition to the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) decision to withdraw its support for long-standing U.S. government positions on digital trade, data localization, and source code at the World Trade Organization (WTO). This decision will create uncertainty and directly harm American innovators and small businesses that rely on the free flow of data and rules-based digital trade.

The Biden Administration Is Disregarding Long-Standing Bipartisan Agreements

“Ambassador Katherine Tai claimed recently that the United States does not have a position on digital trade, but Congress has been clear on its position. In 2015, Congress passed the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act, which directed USTR to ‘ensure that governments refrain from implementing trade-related measures that impede digital trade in goods and services, restrict cross-border data flows, or require local storage or processing of data.’ Then in 2020, Congress passed the United States Mexico Canada Agreement Implementation Act, which preserved barrier-free treatment for digital trade, prevented data localization requirements, and banned the forced transfer of intellectual property in North America. The chapter on digital trade was meant as a model for future trade agreements and sets a strong, shared position between Congress and the executive branch on digital trade. USTR’s reversal is a rebuke of bipartisan agreement on these issues since 2015.” 

USTR’s Decision Will Curb American Leadership And Ultimately Harm Small Business Owners

“Ambassador Tai’s decision to pull American support for these protections must be reversed, as it would forfeit an area of American leadership in the world economy. Further degrading of leadership on these issues will allow for adversaries like China to write protectionist digital trade rules that undermine the rule of law, open American businesses to additional intellectual property theft, and harm the millions of small businesses that are the lifeblood of the American economy. The United States must remain a world leader in innovation and the digital economy; unfortunately, USTR’s policies will undermine our ability to do just that.”


  • The letter is cosigned by U.S. Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), John Thune (R-S.D.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), James Risch (R-Wis.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.).


  • The letter has been endorsed by the Consumer Technology Association, National Taxpayers Union, 365.Training, ACT | The App Association, Colorado Technology Consultants, the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBEC), and Global Force Tech Consulting.

Click here to view the full letter.