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Chairman Williams Writes to USTR Over New Policy Decision Negatively Impacting Small Businesses

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Roger Williams (R-TX), Chairman of the House Committee on Small Business, penned a letter to Katherine Tai, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to express concern over a new policy decision to abandon support for core U.S. digital trade priorities.

The Committee is concerned that the USTR did not consider the interests of small businesses in this decision. Moreover, this decision was made with very little consultation with Congress. Small businesses are incredibly important in the digital economy, and they rely on the predictability and scale of digital platforms to grow and thrive. Worst of all, this decision was made with essentially no input from government agencies, including the Small Business Administration.


Read the full letter here.

Read excerpts from the letter below:

“As the 13th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference commences, the House Committee on Small Business (Committee) writes to express concern over your recent policy decision to abandon support for core U.S. digital trade priorities. The Committee is disappointed that this sudden change in the U.S. position was done with little consultation with Congress and within the Executive Branch. Newfound opposition to longstanding policies run contrary to the interests of safeguarding American workers and businesses, particularly small businesses. We strongly urge the Administration reconsider this approach especially in light of the important role American small businesses play in the digital economy and urge you to reconsider your decision with meaningful consideration of small businesses.

“The global digital economy enables job growth and creation in the U.S. and around the world, while empowering competition and innovation. In fact, U.S. exports in the digital economy accounted for 75 percent of all U.S. services exports, totaling $594 billion, in 2021. Due to American innovation, the U.S. has emerged as a global leader in the digital economy. Significantly, 97 percent of these digital exports come from small and medium businesses. Many small businesses rely on the predictability and scale of global digital platforms to grow and thrive. Dramatic policy reversals, such as this one, remove the stability required to ensure small businesses have a fair shot at competing.

“For small businesses that are already facing excessive regulatory burdens, rising inflation, and uncertainty with the U.S. economy, the impact of your decision will be far more pronounced and burdensome in comparison to large companies. In the words of one small business owner, ‘the companies being hurt by these [restrictive trade] policies . . . is not Meta, it’s us.’ Your decision takes the Biden Administration’s over-regulation agenda international, adding to the 289 million hours of paperwork hours and $452.3 billion in compliance costs already imposed on American businesses by the Biden Administration.

“Further, there are an increasing number of policies implemented around the world targeting American small businesses and threatening U.S. innovation. These policies include restrictive data localization requirements, cross-border data flow controls, and compelled technology transfers. If these policies replace the longstanding digital trade principles that were previously championed by the U.S., small business will face a disproportionate burden. This drastic change in policy threatens the U.S. economy overall and further harms small businesses, their workers, and their ability to fairly compete in the global economy.

“The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) generally relies on advice from other agencies, including the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), through the Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC) and the Trade Policy Review Group (TPRG), to develop positions on international trade issues. However, the Committee learned that this decision was made with little to no input from other agencies, including the SBA. The Committee is concerned that you failed to thoroughly consider other perspectives, or the consequences resulting from this policy reversal.”