Digitrade Digest #17

G7 strike a historic deal to tax tech giants, Australia and US discussing digital trade, US and UK to forge tech alliance

The Digitrade Digest delivers the latest developments in global digital trade right to your inbox every week. To get the news as it happens, follow us on Twitter @DigiTradeDaily

G7

Tech giants and tax havens targeted by historic G7 deal

Reute

rs: The United States, Britain and other large, rich nations reached a landmark deal on Saturday to squeeze more money out of multinational companies such as Amazon and Google and reduce their incentive to shift profits to low-tax offshore havens.

Hundreds of billions of dollars could flow into the coffers of governments left cash-strapped by the COVID-19 pandemic after the Group of Seven (G7) advanced economies agreed to back a minimum global corporate tax rate of at least 15%.

Facebook (FB.O) said it expected it would have to pay more tax, in more countries, as a result of the deal, which comes after eight years of talks that gained fresh impetus in recent months after proposals from U.S. President Joe Biden's new administration.

US

Top U.S. antitrust lawmaker targets Big Tech with new bills -sources

Reuters: Among the five bills being considered, two address the problems of platforms, like Amazon.com (AMZN.O), creating a space for businesses to sell products and then competing against those products.

One of the two would make it illegal in most cases for a platform to advantage its own products on its platform with potentially a fine of 30% of the U.S. revenues of the affected business if they violate the measure. A second requires platforms to sell any business if owning it creates an incentive for the platform to advantage its own products or lines of business.

A third bill would require a platform to refrain from any merger unless it can show the acquired company does not compete with any product or service the platform is in.

A fourth would require platforms to set up a way for users to transfer data if they desire, including to a competing business. A fifth is similar to a Senate measure that would raise what the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charge to assess the biggest companies to ensure their mergers are legal and increase the budget of the agencies.

Australia-US in talks on digital trade pact

InnovationAus: Such a trade deal would cover issues such as standardised digital payment rules, data localisation and data privacy, with the aim of breaking down some of the barriers to trade, particularly aimed at opening opportunities for small and medium enterprises.

While using the agreement with Singapore as a kind of prototype or template, Mr Sinodinos said Australia’s preference was for a regional approach bringing in partners like Japan, South Korean, Singapore and others.

A key aim would be to set agreed rules and standards for trade in the digital economy, a recognition of geostrategic competition as it overlaps with global trade issues.

Europe

US and Europe to forge tech alliance amid China’s rise

Politico: China's rise as a tech superpower also explains why the U.S. and EU are motivated to team up on tech and digital trade. Beijing has set its sights on becoming a global leader and standard setter for next-generation industries like artificial intelligence, robotics and semiconductors — and plans to get there through aggressive investments, acquisitions and regulations favoring domestic companies like Alibaba and Huawei.

Officials hope the new transatlantic body will give the EU and U.S. a stronger footing to keep pace. As part of the so-called EU-U.S. Trade and Technology Council (TTC), Washington and Brussels are expected to detail how they will work together to promote joint standards around emerging technologies, and to make commitments to better police the digital world now dominated by a few Silicon Valley tech giants.

The alliance could tackle everything from the intricate tech supply chains — which often run through China — to making collective investments in digital projects. And it will be designed to work with other like-minded countries, including Australia and Japan, and at international bodies like the World Trade Organization.

UK

UK strikes post-Brexit trade deal with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein

Euronews: The agreement includes the digital and farming sectors and will boost the economy and support jobs, the British government said in a news release.

UK International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said the deal is a "major boost for trade" with the three other nations. It is said to be the most advanced the trio have done to date, with dedicated chapters on the digital trade and small businesses.

In what it describes as "cutting edge digital provisions", the British statement says UK firms exporting to Norway and Iceland will benefit from commitments that limit red tape and "allow goods to move seamlessly across borders".

Events

The Economists ‘Global Trade Virtual Week’

Debate: the Fourth Industrial Revolution and global trade: has there “never been a time of greater promise or potential peril? (Day 3)

Time: 3:30 pm -4:00 pm BST

When: June 30, 2021

Speakers:

  • Leila Aridi Afas, Director, International public policy, Toyota

  • Burcu Kilic PhD, Director, digital rights program and research director, access to medicines, Public Citizen

  • Roger Atkins, Founder, Electric Vehicles Outlook

Register here

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The Digitrade Digest is a weekly publication of the Digital Rights Program at Public Citizen.