LaHood bill supports open digital trade policies

The Digital Trade for Development Act, sponsored on May 7 by U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL), would update the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) to support open digital trade policies that promote international economic growth. 

“Digital trade is an engine for economic success in the United States and around the world,” said Rep. LaHood, co-chair of the Digital Trade Caucus. “By modernizing the GSP, this bill can support open digital trade policies that expand economic growth in developing countries and advance American interests around the world.”

The GSP, which was created by Congress in the 1970s to spur economic development in poor countries through trade, provides non-reciprocal, duty-free treatment for certain U.S. imports from eligible developing countries. Beneficiary developing countries (BDCs) are selected on the basis of certain mandatory eligibility criteria, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. LaHood’s office.

Currently, several developing countries have enacted similar digital trade policies to China’s at the detriment to their own economic interests and benefited from duty-free access to U.S. markets under the GSP while employing digital policies that undermine American values, jobs and exports.

If enacted, H.R. 3052 would modify the bases for ineligibility for countries to benefit from the GSP, according to the text of the bill, and would incorporate digital trade as a statutory consideration in designating BDCs under the GSP.

H.R. 3052 would allow the United States Trade Representative to prevent countries from receiving BDC status if, for example, they restrict digital trade that harms U.S. strategic interests through predatory industrial policies targeting technology sectors, the bill summary says.

The Internet Association, BSA | The Software Alliance, and the Information Technology Industry Council support H.R. 3052, which has been referred for consideration to the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee.