Next Steps for U.S. Digital Leadership: Advancing Digital Governance with the Pacific and Europe



Dr. Orit Frenkel, Rebecca Karnak | American Leadership Initiative

Building on a strong domestic agenda, the Administration’s international objectives include ensuring a worker-centric trade policy, rebuilding partnerships with allies, and developing a strategy to address China’s growing technology challenge. Leading on global digital governance must be a key component of this agenda.

ALI’s report focuses on next steps to creating a U.S. led global digital governance agenda. As the longer-term process of negotiating a multilateral digital agreement under the World Trade Organization evolves, the U.S. should focus on nearer-term goals in the Pacific and Europe.

A new digital agenda starts with the need to identify policies that are worker-centric. The Administration and Congress are working on a new trade agreement model to put workers at the center, and this focus needs to be part of digital agreements. This includes language covering digital inclusion and access to technology, especially to underserved communities, a focus on small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and protections for online users.

Second, the U.S. should negotiate a Pacific Digital Agreement to reestablish U.S. engagement in Asia, building on existing regional agreements, which include open and democratic values. This agreement should include a group of five or six key countries in the region, incorporate new worker-centric language, together with existing high standard language from DEPA, DEA and the U.S.-Japan Agreement, and create new norms on ethical AI, facial recognition, and technologies of the future.

Finally, the U.S. should build a coalition of like-minded, technology-democracies to develop a high standard digital governance agenda advancing open and democratic values. The U.S.-EU Tech and Trade Council is a good first step toward this goal. Building this coalition is the most critical element in countering China’s harmful approaches to tech and data governance, and the U.S. has no stronger partner in these values than the EU. However, the two sides will also need to work through digital policy friction, including privacy, taxation, and regulatory approaches like the Digital Markets Act (DMA).


Dr. Orit Frenkel is the CEO and co-founder of the American Leadership Initiative. She has 39 years of experience working on Asia, trade, and foreign policy issues. 

Ms. Rebecca Karnak is Director of Digital Projects at the American Leadership Initiative. She is also the Principal and Founder of Woodside Policy LLC.

To read the full report from the American Leadership Initiative, please click here