POLITICO Morning Tech: Shenzhen shutdown threatens tech supply chains

March 14, 2022 Media

FIGHT BREWING OVER DIGITAL TRADE IN COMPETITIVENESS CONFERENCE: Lawmakers are soon set to square off over competitiveness bills passed by the House and Senate — and digital trade is almost certain to be a key sticking point, with tech-friendly trade provisions found in the Senate bill unlikely to be met with enthusiasm by House leaders.

The burgeoning conflict comes in the midst of a broader debate over how foreign governments should treat American tech companies, with the Biden administration taking flak from progressives for defending U.S. companies against antitrust proposals and other regulatory efforts now under discussion in Europe — even as some U.S. lawmakers consider similar reforms. And House leadership is worried that delays due to disagreement over digital trade provisions could make it much harder for lawmakers to reach consensus on other elements of the bill.

— Progressives gear up: Left-of-center tech groups will likely keep pressing lawmakers to oppose many of the digital trade provisions in the Senate bill. Lori Wallach, the director of the Rethink Trade program at the American Economic Liberties Project, said the bill is “weighed down with controversial Big Tech giveaways” and would characterize many of the digital regulations and antitrust efforts now being pursued by Congress and U.S. agencies as “illegal trade barriers.”

The provisions would also mean “annual USTR reviews of other countries’ digital governance policies,” said Wallach. She added that the “public interest safeguards” now being pursued by EU regulators would come under especially heavy scrutiny for allegedly targeting U.S. tech companies.