As the global internet develops and evolves, digital trade
has become more prominent on the global trade and economic policy agenda. The economic
impact of the internet was estimated to be $4.2 trillion in 2016, making it the
equivalent of the fifth-largest national economy. The digital economy accounted
for 6.9% of current‐dollar gross U.S. domestic product (GDP) in 2017. Digital
trade has been growing faster than traditional trade in goods and
services. Congress has an important role
to play in shaping global digital trade policy, from oversight of agencies
charged with regulating cross-border data flows to shaping and considering
legislation implementing new trade rules and disciplines through trade
negotiations. Congress also works with the executive branch to identify the
right balance between digital trade and other policy objectives, including
privacy and national security.
As part of a larger study on the future of the post-World War II liberal international order, RAND researchers analyze the health of the existing order and offer implications for future U.S. policy. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
Politicians are reaping gains by wrapping themselves in flags and directing hostility toward globalization. “Humankind is developing an emerging ‘global consciousness’ – a collective sensitivity to noble thoughts as well as to phobias and ignoble protectionism,” explains Farok Contractor, a professor of global management at Rutgers University. Contractor describes how responses to global connections divide societies. One example is the embrace of Valentine’s Day by many consumers in Asia while some religious fanatics in India target foreign practices for eroding cultural traditions. Likewise, voters in rural United States and Britain, areas with few foreigners, fell prey to scaremongering about immigration while the more educated and wealthy in cities may be less threatened by multicultural ideas. Angst over job losses, stagnant wages and changing industries is real, but unscrupulous media and populists manipulate audiences by blaming globalization, trade and immigration rather than automation or the quest for modernization by majorities in many countries. Contractor concludes that “Globalization is a symptom of human desire and ambition leading to ever-increasing connections.” Nations that resist globalization, rather than engaging in thoughtful examination and policymaking, will encounter many negative consequences. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
Hufbauer and Lu, updating a landmark PIIE study made in 2005, calculate the payoff to the United States from trade expansion from 1950 to 2016 at $2.1 trillion. The payoff has stemmed from trade expansion resulting from policy liberalization and improved transportation and communications technology. The sum translates into an increase of $7,014 in GDP per capita and $18,131 in GDP per household. The potential gains from future policy liberalization could be as large as $540 billion for the United States by the year 2025, or an increase of $1,670 in GDP per capita and $4,400 in GDP per household. On the other hand, 156,250 manufacturing sector jobs were lost annually over the past 13 years, representing less than a percent of the number of people involuntary separated from their jobs each year. A more generous unemployment insurance program and expanded tax credits would help displaced workers adjust, the authors argue, while preserving the large gains resulting from trade expansion. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
Recent deficit reduction and tax reform plans have included broad proposals to reform the U.S. international corporate tax system. These proposals have raised concerns over how changing the way American multi-national corporations are taxed could impact the deficit and debt, domestic job markets, competitiveness, and the use of corporate tax havens, among other things. An informed debate about how to reform the system governing the taxation of U.S. multi-national corporations requires careful consideration of these issues, as well as a basic understanding of several features of the current system.
This report provides a general introduction to the basic concepts and issues relevant to the U.S. international corporate tax system. The explanations provided in this report emphasize the underlying concepts of the international tax system and are intended to be as simplified as possible. There are of course important and complex technical details that would need to be considered carefully if reform of the current system were to be implemented effectively and efficiently. These important technical details, however, are beyond the scope of this report. Where appropriate, references to other CRS products are provided within the report. A list of related CRS products and other suggested readings on international corporate taxation may also be found at the end of the report.
The United States is considering two mega-regional free trade agreements that its participants argue are comprehensive and high-standard: the recently concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) among the United States and 11 other countries, and the U.S.-European Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP), still under negotiation. The 12 TPP countries signed the agreement in February 2016, but the agreement must be ratified by each country before it can enter into force. In the United States, this requires implementing legislation by Congress. Discussions of these and other FTAs often focus on trade balances, particularly U.S. bilateral merchandise trade balances with its FTA partner countries, as one way of measuring the success of the agreement. Although bilateral merchandise trade balances can provide a quick snapshot of the U.S. trade relationship with a particular country, most economists argue that such balances serve as incomplete measures of the comprehensive nature of the trade and economic relationship between the United States and its FTA partners. Indeed, current trade agreements include trade in services, provisions for investment, and trade facilitation, among others that are not reflected in bilateral merchandise trade balances.
This report presents data on U.S. merchandise (goods) trade with its Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partner countries. The data are presented to show bilateral trade balances for individual FTA partners and groups of countries representing such major agreements as the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Central American Free Trade Agreement and Dominican Republic (CAFTA-DR) relative to total U.S. trade balances. This report also discusses the issues involved in using bilateral merchandise trade balances as a standard for measuring the economic effects of a particular FTA.
The U.S. government has historically focused on TBML schemes involving drug proceeds from Latin America, particularly the Black Market Peso Exchange (BMPE). Although a number of anecdotal case studies in recent years have revealed instances in which TBML is used by known terrorist groups and other non-state armed groups, including Hezbollah, the Treasury Department’s June 2015 National Terrorist Financing Risk Assessment concluded that TBML is not a dominant method for terrorist financing.