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Analysis on the deepening and expansion of the “American Template” of digital trade rules based on the USMCA

ZHOU Nianli1 CHEN Huanqi1

(1.China Institute for WTO Studies, University of International Business and Economics)

【Abstract】The digital trade negotiations under the framework of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) are based on the rules of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). In addition to directly inheriting some of the provisions in the TPP, USMCA has made a series of upgrades to the digital trade rules in the TPP. The improvement of USMCA compared with the TPP digital trade rules is mainly embodied in the following aspects: extending the non-discriminatory treatment of digital products to broadcast service products; removing the “consideration of the regulatory needs of all parties” in the “free flow of cross-border data” clause; clearly identifying the specific agreements and principles to be followed by parties in terms of “personal information protection”; excluding “regulatory exceptions” and “public safety exceptions” in the non-mandatory data storage localization provisions; and expanding “barring the disclosure of open source” terms to infrastructure software and introducing “encryption protection” provisions; as well as promoting cooperation among parties in various areas such as information technology, cybersecurity, and small- and medium-sized enterprises. In addition, USMCA introduces extension rules that are not covered by the TPP, including “exemption of interactive computer service provider’s liability from third-party infringement” and “government data disclosure” terms. In light of the U.S. position made in USMCA negotiations, this paper predicted that in the post USMCA era of trade negotiations, the digital trade rules of the “American template” will mainly continue to develop and evolve in two aspects: continuing to promote the internationalization of the domestic digital economy in the U.S. and urging parties to open up specific digital service sectors.

【Keywords】 digital trade; American Template; USMCA; personal information protection; source code; encryption protection;


【Funds】 The National Social Science Fund of China (19AGJ012) The National Natural Science Foundation of China (71941012) Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities of University of International Business and Economics (ZD3-07) Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities of University of International Business and Economics (CXTD9-06)

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    [1]. (1) It refers to the trade in goods and services based on the information and communication technology represented by the Internet. [^Back]


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This Article


CN: 11-1692/F

Vol , No. 09, Pages 1-11

September 2019


Article Outline


  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 USMCA’s deepening of digital trade rules under the TPP framework
  • 3 USMCA’s expansion of digital trade rules under the TPP framework
  • 4 Development trend of “American asking price” of digital trade based on USMCA negotiations
  • 5 Conclusion and China’s measures
  • Footnote