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New Framework for International Digital Asset regulations prioritizes US leadership

The U.S. Treasury has delivered its Framework for International Engagement on Digital Assets to President Joe Biden this week, setting out a multi-agency approach toward engagement with foreign counterparts and in international fora.

The publication, produced in consultation with multiple government offices, including the Secretary of State and Secretary of Commerce, is the latest manifestation of President Biden’s executive Order on digital assets. Signed back in March, the Order directed federal agencies to collaborate to examine the risks and benefits of digital assets.

In a fact sheet published on its website, the U.S. Treasury sets out the objectives of the framework as well as the various ways in which the U.S. and its agencies interface with agencies and other entities around the world. The objectives are:

  • Protect consumers, investors and businesses in the U.S. and abroad by promoting technology and regulatory standards reflecting U.S. values,
  • Protect U.S. and global financial stability and mitigate systemic risk,
  • Mitigate illicit finance and national security risks posed by the misuse of digital assets and counter and respond to efforts by foreign adversaries to drive standards and promote their own protocols
  • Reinforce U.S. leadership in the global financial system and technological and economic competitiveness, including through the responsible development of payment innovations and digital assets and by advancing technology and regulatory standards that align with U.S. values,
  • Promote access to safe and affordable financial services, and
  • Support technological advances that promote responsible development and use of digital assets by advancing research and relationships that increase shared learning

The emphasis on international engagement is a natural direction of focus given the U.S.’s active participation in tackling global digital asset issues, the release says. Indeed, maintaining a leadership position in the ongoing development of digital asset laws and regulations is clearly a priority for the Biden administration. While largely couched in terms of cooperation, the release emphasizes that international regulatory developments in the industry must reflect U.S. values.

“The United States will… more actively develop, with key allies and partners, a vision for digital assets in line with US values and objectives,” says the release.

“The United States will continue to participate in sectoral and cross-sectoral international standard setting bodies related to digital assets and will increase our work in these forums to ensure that we play a leading role in developing associated standards,” it added.

The framework is the latest ripple caused by Biden’s March Order. Since that Order was signed in March, U.S. authorities have been working fast to implement it. At the end of June, the U.S. House Agriculture’s Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy and Credit urged for ‘rules of the road’ to be established for the digital asset industry. Earlier that month, the Responsible Financial Innovation Act was introduced, which would greatly recalibrate the responsibilities of the CFTC and SEC in regulating digital asset markets.

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