The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), at the request of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, is preparing a report under Section 332(g) of the Tariff Act on the impacts of foreign censorship on U.S. businesses. As part of the preparation for this report, the ITC is undertaking a survey of U.S. businesses, with a particular focus on the trade and economic effects of foreign censorship polices and practices on U.S. companies and their global operations. Section 332 reports are commonly requested in the case of high-profile or emerging trade issues. They do not result in any type of action by the ITC to provide trade relief, but rather help to inform future policymaking.
If your company has commercial connections to China, you may have received a questionnaire from the ITC in relation to the Section 332 investigation. The ITC is empowered to undertake such surveys as part of the investigatory process, and the receipt of a questionnaire should not raise any concerns. Please note, however, that the ITC considers your participation in the survey to be mandatory.
The ITC treats all responses to the questionnaire as confidential business information and will only report aggregated results from the survey as part of the final Section 332 report. In this instance, the ITC will use responses to the questionnaire in preparation for the report, Foreign Censorship Part 2: Trade and Economic Effects on U.S. Businesses, which is due to the Senate Finance Committee on July 5, 2022.
The questionnaire, which is to be completed online using a unique questionnaire token provided in the letter received, asks a series of company-specific questions about business operations; experiences with censorship-related acts, policies, or practices in China; perceived impacts of censorship in China; economic effects of censorship in China; and experiences with censorship-related acts, policies, or practices in other markets (Africa, Asia-Pacific, Commonwealth of Independent States, Europe, and the Americas).
Congress has shown increasing interest in the impact of China’s censorship policies and practices on U.S. exports, particularly in the area of digital trade. The Senate Finance Committee’s request for a Section 332 investigation reflects concern over censorship as a potential non-tariff barrier to trade and investment in China and elsewhere. The results of the Section 332 investigation may influence the content of future trade legislation to address this issue. The Biden Administration is also likely to consider the ITC report’s findings when formulating digital trade policy as well as setting priorities for the enforcement of U.S. trade laws.