Foreign censorship and related measures led to significant foregone revenues for U.S. businesses annually and restricted the opportunity of U.S. businesses to provide services to hundreds of millions of users in China, according to a new report by the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC or Commission).
The investigation, Foreign Censorship, Part 2: Trade and Economic Effects on U.S. Businesses, was requested by the Senate Committee on Finance (Committee) in a letter received on April 8, 2021. This report is the second of two reports on foreign censorship requested by the Committee.
As requested, the USITC, an independent, nonpartisan, factfinding federal agency, reported on the impacts to U.S. businesses of foreign censorship in the key markets of China, Russia, Turkey, Vietnam, India, and Indonesia through the application of case studies and a survey. Findings from the report include:
- Based on the survey results, businesses providing media and digital services are those most likely to be affected by censorship-related measures in China. Almost a quarter of U.S. media and digital service providers in China that were able to enter the Chinese market, representing more than half of the 2020 global revenue of all U.S. media and digital service providers active in China, experienced censorship-related measures. A significantly higher share of large businesses experienced censorship-related measures in China than small and medium-sized businesses. For U.S. media and digital service providers that experienced censorship:
- Almost three-quarters were concerned about negative impacts on their operations in China, including their ability to provide products and services in China. Most also noted that censorship-related measures in China have become more challenging to manage in the past few years.
- Almost 40 percent indicated that they had to self-censor to provide their products or services in China.
- Over 40 percent experienced increased costs of doing business in China and/or lost revenue in China as a result of censorship-related measures.
- Based on the case studies, the Commission estimates that the largest impacts associated with censorship-related measures are the forgone revenues from market access denial to businesses that provide social media platforms, over-the-top communications services, and internet search services, as well as audiovisual content.
Foreign Censorship, Part 2: Trade and Economic Effects on U.S. Businesses (Investigation No. 332-586, USITC Publication 5334, July 2022) is available on the USITC’s website at https://www.usitc.gov/publications/332/pub5334.pdf. The first report, Foreign Censorship, Part 1: Policies and Practices Affecting U.S. Businesses (Investigation No. 332-585, USITC Publication 5244, December 2021), is available on the USITC’s website at https://www.usitc.gov/publications/332/pub5244.pdf.
USITC general factfinding investigations, such as this one, cover matters related to tariffs or trade and are generally conducted under section 332(g) of the Tariff Act of 1930 at the request of the U.S. Trade Representative, the House Committee on Ways and Means, or the Senate Committee on Finance. The resulting report conveys the Commission’s objective findings and independent analyses on the subjects investigated. The Commission makes no recommendations on policy or other matters in its general factfinding reports. Upon completion of each investigation, the USITC submits its findings and analyses to the requester. General factfinding investigation reports are subsequently released to the public, unless they are classified by the requester for national security reasons.