The United States International Trade Commission (ITC), at the request of the United States Senate Finance Committee, is preparing a report under Section 332 (g) of the Tariff Act on the impacts of foreign censorship on American companies. As part of the preparation of this report, ITC is undertaking a survey of U.S. companies, with a particular focus on the business and economic effects of foreign censorship policies and practices on U.S. businesses and their global operations. Section 332 reports are typically requested for high profile or emerging business issues. They do not trigger any kind of action on the part of ITC to ease trade, but rather help inform future policy making.
If your company has commercial ties with China, you may have received a questionnaire from the ITC regarding the Section 332 investigation. The ITC has the authority to initiate such investigations as part of the process. survey, and receiving a questionnaire should not be a problem. Please note, however, that ITC considers your participation in the survey mandatory.
The ITC treats all questionnaire responses as confidential business information and will only report the aggregated results of the investigation as part of the Section 332 Final Report. In this case, the ITC will use the questionnaire responses to prepare the report, Foreign Censorship Part 2: Trade and Economic Effects on US Businesses, to be submitted 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 acts, policies or practices related to censorship in China; perceived impacts of censorship in China; economic effects of censorship in China; and experiences with acts, policies or practices related to censorship in other markets (Africa, Asia-Pacific, Commonwealth of Independent States, Europe and the Americas).
Congress has shown growing interest in the impact of China’s censorship policies and practices on U.S. exports, especially in the area of digital commerce. The Senate Finance Committee’s request for a Section 332 inquiry reflects concerns about 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 take the findings of the ITC report into account when formulating digital trade policy as well as setting priorities for the enforcement of US trade laws.