By Ron Cheng
As the U.S. reexamines its trade policy, commentators following U.S.-China affairs have noted an important area that has not received as much attention as the bilateral trade in goods but may one day rival it: the digital economy. Although U.S. exports of information and communication technology-related services to China totaled $12.8 billion in 2015, e-commerce sales in China were estimated to be $672 billion in 2014 (double that of the United States). It stands to reason that but for current restrictions on the Internet in China and unlawful usage in the form of intellectual property theft, the U.S. export figure could be substantially larger.
Commentators have noted that both countries could gain substantially with freer digital trade flows, including a suggestion on the China-US Focus site that implementing a bilateral agreement could have salutary effects through expansion into a free trade zone.