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Lawmakers urge USTR to push for extension of WTO’s moratorium on digital trade -Breaking


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. Commerce Consultant Katherine Tai speaks throughout a reception to have fun Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, within the Rose Backyard of the White Home in Washington, U.S., Might 17, 2022. REUTERS/Elizabeth Fra

By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers urged U.S. Commerce Consultant Katherine Tai to push throughout World Commerce Group conferences this week for an extension of a moratorium on tariffs on digital commerce that has been in place since 1998.

Greater than 100 commerce ministers from the WTO’s 164 members are assembly in Geneva this week, however the 27-year-old commerce physique stays deeply challenged by crises starting from Russia’s battle in Ukraine to the COVID-19 pandemic.

WTO chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala expressed cautious optimism on Sunday that one or two world offers could possibly be reached this week, however stated there have been nonetheless challenges to beat.

Thirty-four U.S. lawmakers, led by Democratic Consultant Suzan DelBene and Republican Consultant Darin LaHood, warned that one of many key points at hand – whether or not to resume a moratorium on tariffs on digital items reminiscent of e-books, films and video video games and digital companies reminiscent of emails, texts and software program – would have huge penalties for the USA.

“Failing to resume the moratorium, as we have now carried out for greater than twenty years, would undermine the power of the American financial system, jobs, and innovation,” they informed Tai in a letter dated Friday that was seen by Reuters.

DelBene informed Reuters extending the ban on e-commerce tariffs needs to be “low-hanging fruit for the WTO.”

One senior USTR official expressed hope the moratorium could possibly be prolonged, and stated U.S. officers had made clear to opponents they might even be harming growing international locations.

Of their letter, the lawmakers famous commerce in digital items and companies had turn out to be more and more important to U.S. employees and companies, together with many small companies that used digital instruments to export their services abroad.

If India and different international locations prevailed of their efforts to finish the moratorium, international locations would be capable to slap duties on sectors reminiscent of manufacturing, agriculture, leisure, software program, and monetary companies, which might additional disrupt provide chains and jack up shopper costs, the lawmakers stated.