ALI Convenes Discussion on a Pacific Digital Agreement



American Leadership Initiative

On May 25, 2021, the American Leadership Initiative (ALI) hosted a webinar discussing the potential for a Pacific Digital Agreement. As a follow-up to ALI’s February report, A Global Digital Strategy for America, this program discussed the importance of establishing a digital governance framework that embodies the values of democracy, transparency, and accountability. Such a framework would both facilitate fast growing digital trade and, importantly, counter China’s spread of autocratic digital standards across the globe.

ALI Webinar Featuring:

Rep. Ami Bera, United States Congress (D-CA)

Amb. Arthur Sinodinos, Australia’s Ambassador to the US

Amb. Rosemary Banks, New Zealand’s Ambassador to the US

Amb. Ashok Mirpuri, Singapore’s Ambassador to the US

Takeshi Komoto, the Economic Minister at the Japanese Embassy to the US

Congressman Bera discussed the desire to develop a worker-centric trade agenda and Ambassador Banks discussed New Zealand’s “Trade For All” initiative and what elements could be incorporated into a worker-centric digital agreement, including access to technology especially for underserved communities.

The Ambassadors discussed that in America’s absence from the region over the past four years, having dropped out of TPP, China has been moving to set regional and global rules and standards. This increases the imperative of developing a digital framework that establishes a democratic version of the internet, that is transparent, accountable and democratic. Negotiating a Pacific Digital Agreement would also serve to reassert U.S. engagement in the region.

The panelists discussed the myriad of digital agreements in the region, including CPTPP, the successor to TPP, the U.S.-Japan Digital Agreement, the Singapore-Australia Digital Economy Agreement, and the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement between Singapore, New Zealand and Chile, and which would be the right venue for the U.S. to use as an anchor for a Pacific Digital Agreement.

Congressman Bera stated that he thought that there was bipartisan support for the U.S. to set global digital standards.  The Ambassadors stressed that having Congress reauthorize Trade Promotion Authority, which expires this summer, would be an important signal that the U.S. government is ready to move forward with negotiations.

To view the original discussion by ALI, please click here.