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The US shifts course on digital trade

Published 31 October 2023

The US last week ended its support for WTO e-commerce proposals. What does this mean for WTO progress in crafting international rules on data flows, data localization, and whether governments can force companies to transfer source codes? Plus, other pieces on China’s graphite grip, the Belt and Road Initiative in its second decade, Biden tightening export controls on China, and more from our latest reading list.

US ends support for WTO e-commerce proposals

Inside US Trade breaks the news of the US end of support to WTO e-commerce proposals, while Reuters provides additional reporting. Sam Lowe of Most Favoured Nation speculates on the real reasons behind the policy change, including the role of AI. Coincidentally, the Biden administration is preparing to issue a sweeping new executive order to address the challenges of AI, reports Politico. For a deeper understanding of the digital landscape, read an interview with Anu Bradford on her book, Digital Empires, from Tech Policy Press.

Mentioned publications

  1. U.S. to end support for WTO e-commerce proposals, wants ‘policy space’ for digital trade rethink – Inside US Trade, October 24, 2023
    The US will end support for proposals on data flows, data localization, and source codes at WTO.

  2. US drops digital trade demands at WTO to allow room for stronger tech regulationReuters, October 26, 2023
    Is the US changing its approach to digital trade to allow more space for domestic regulation and policymaking?

  3. Most Favoured Nation: Why Does The US Hate Digital Trade? – Sam Lowe, Most Favoured Nation, October 27, 2023
    What are some alternative explanations for the US change of posture on digital trade?

  4. Sweeping new Biden order aims to alter the AI landscape – Mohar Chatterjee and Rebecca Kern, Politico, October 27, 2023
    The sudden rise of AI technologies and concerns over regulation may impact trade policy.

  5. Digital Empires: A Conversation with Anu BradfordTech Policy Press, October 8, 2023
    How should nations regulate the digital economy and digital trade?

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Tit for tat export controls

On the one-year anniversary of game-changing US export controls on semiconductors, the US issues another set of rules.  The rules are more calibrated than last year’s says Rishi Iyengar in Foreign Policy. Law firm Akin provides details of the rule changes in a new brief.  The US is expecting to drastically change the chip-making landscape over the next five years, writes Nikkei Asia. In retaliation, China has issued new restrictions on graphite exports, per the Center for Strategic and International Studies.  The Wire China reports on China’s grip on global graphite resources.

Mentioned publications

  1. Biden Turns a Few More Screws on China’s Chip Industry – Rishi Iyengar, Foreign Policy, October 19, 2023
    The US chooses to wield “a scalpel over a sledgehammer” in issuing additional export controls.

  2. Commerce Imposes Significant New Controls on Advanced SemiconductorsAkin Export Controls and Economic Sanctions Practice Group, October 24, 2023
    The legal details of new US export controls on advanced chips.

  3. U.S. eyes 5-year timeline for China chip decouplingNikkei Asia, October 27, 2023
    The US envisions a changed competitive landscape in chip production in five years’ time.

  4. China’s New Graphite Restrictions –  Emily Benson and Thibault Denamiel, Center for Strategic and International Studies, October 23, 2023
    On October 20, China retaliated with new export controls on graphite, a key input for EVs.

  5. China’s Graphite Grip – Eliot Chen, The Wire China, August 6, 2023
    What resources can the US develop to compensate for China’s graphite controls?

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Ten years of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

China Power asks how is the BRI advancing China’s interests, while the Council on Foreign Relations considers the BRI as it enters its second decade. How do countries perceive the BRI? Alicia García-Herrero and Robin Schindowski present their findings in Bruegel. Wang Yiwei of Renmin University offers a decade review of BRI in Ginger River Review, and the Financial Times asks what has US$1 trillion achieved?

Mentioned publications

  1. How Is the Belt and Road Initiative Advancing China’s Interests?China Power, updated October 25, 2023
    What are the basics of the BRI?

  2. China’s Belt and Road Initiative Enters Its Second Decade: Which Leaders Went to Beijing to Celebrate with Xi Jinping? – David Sacks, Council on Foreign Relations, October 17, 2023
    China recommits to the Belt and Road Initiative, ten years from its launch.

  3. Global trends in countries‘ perceptions of the Belt and Road Initiative - Alicia García-Herrero and Robin Schindowski, Bruegel, April 25, 2023
    Views of the BRI have been largely positive but have degraded over time.

  4. Decade Review: Did Belt and Road Initiative meet its ambitions? A conversation with Wang Yiwei, Jean Monnet Chair professor, Director of Institute of International Affairs at Renmin UniversityGinger River Review, October 16, 2023
    What has the BRI accomplished over the past 10 years?

  5. Ten years of China’s Belt and Road: what has $1tn achieved? – Joe Leahy, James Kynge, and Benjamin Parkin, Financial Times, October 22, 2023
    The coming decade will likely see the BRI shift focus toward more sustainable development.

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