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OCT 25, 2023 | US

BSA and GDA: USTR Decision Undermines US Economic and Democratic Interests

Abandoning WTO Digital Trade Efforts Hurts US Workers

WASHINGTON – BSA | The Software Alliance and the Global Data Alliance issued the following joint statement in response to the US Trade Representative’s announcement that it would withdraw its support for key digital trade principles before the World Trade Organization.

Today’s decision by the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) to walk away from World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations designed to promote the cross-border exchange of knowledge and data is a blow to US workers and industries that depend upon cross-border access to technology and information. This decision undermines US leadership and support for strong, rules-based digital trade and risks fueling digital protectionism that will harm citizens and economies worldwide. 

Just over a year ago, the Biden Administration articulated an optimistic plan to seek "high-standard rules of the road in the digital economy, including standards on cross-border data flows and data localization" and to "ensure small and medium sized enterprises can benefit" from the digital economy. We strongly welcomed this vision at that time. Regrettably, USTR’s decision to walk away from that original vision will facilitate the spread of digitally authoritarian and protectionist measures. Such measures – championed by US strategic competitors – have multiplied in recent years.

USTR has also announced that it will no longer support digital trade provisions that protect sensitive software source code from forced access and malicious cyberactivity.

USTR’s action reverses longstanding positions first developed during the Obama Administration to promote the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and economic opportunities between the United States and its trading partners. As recognized by that Administration, when trading partners restrict cross-border digital access to American-made books, films, music, software, machinery, aircraft, and vehicles, they hurt American workers. When trading partners restrict cross-border access to knowledge and information, they undermine human rights, freedom of expression, scientific progress, and the ability to solve shared health, climate, and economic challenges.

BSA | The Software Alliance and the Global Data Alliance, our signature initiative consisting of companies worldwide committed to upholding the highest standards for global data responsibility, will continue to engage with and urge USTR to advocate for high standards that support – not inhibit – cross-border digital openness and economic opportunity.


The Global Data Alliance (globaldataalliance.org) is a cross-industry coalition of companies that are committed to high standards of data responsibility and that rely on the ability to transfer data around the world to innovate and create jobs. Alliance members are headquartered across the globe and are active in the advanced manufacturing, aerospace, automotive, consumer goods, electronics, financial services, health, media and entertainment, natural resources, supply chain, and telecommunications sectors, among others. BSA | The Software Alliance administers the Global Data Alliance.


BSA | The Software Alliance (www.bsa.org) is the leading advocate for the global software industry before governments and in the international marketplace. Its members are among the world’s most innovative companies, creating software solutions that help businesses of all sizes in every part of the economy to modernize and grow.

With headquarters in Washington, DC, and operations in more than 30 countries, BSA pioneers compliance programs that promote legal software use and advocates for public policies that foster technology innovation and drive growth in the digital economy.


Michael O’Brien

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