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Press Release Published: Aug 22, 2023

Comer Probes FTC Overstepping Authority in Indo-Pacific Trade Negotiations

WASHINGTON—House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) is today announcing the Committee’s investigation into the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) role in Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) negotiations. In a letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan, Chairman Comer acknowledges the importance of the IPEF in countering China’s influence in the region but raises concerns that the FTC is going beyond its authority to dictate provisions related to digital trade and competition and undermine U.S. businesses abroad.

“While the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and Department of Commerce are leading IPEF negotiations, the Committee understands that the FTC has sent its own staff to participate.  The Committee is also aware of a letter sent from the FTC and the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Antitrust Division seeking to influence USTR negotiations. The Committee is concerned that the FTC is using negotiations to reduce trade barriers in order to dictate FTC antitrust policies,” wrote Chairman Comer.

The Oversight Committee is investigating whether the FTC has overstepped the bounds of its role in protecting American consumers and the American marketplace and serving U.S. economic interests. The Committee is concerned that Chair Khan is aiding and abetting foreign governments against U.S. business interests to pass her radical antitrust agenda. For example, FTC and DOJ officials sent a letter to the United States Trade Representative (USTR) attempting to dictate provisions of IPEF negotiations and reduce protections for American multinational companies.

Chairman Comer opened an investigation into Chair Khan’s leadership on June 1, 2023 in response to the resignation of former Commissioner Christine Wilson and allegations that the FTC has abused its power and disregarded the rule of law and due process under Chair Khan’s leadership.

“… FTC and DOJ officials reportedly wrote to USTR on March 22, 2023, demanding that IPEF incorporate political goals sought by the FTC.Specifically, the FTC is seeking to dictate U.S. positions on provisions related to digital trade and competition. It appears the FTC is going beyond its authority to undermine U.S. businesses abroad,” Chairman Comer continued.

Read Chairman Comer’s letter here.

READ MORE: Comer Probes Federal Trade Commission Chair Khan’s Abuses of Power