A veteran of D.C. coverage circles, Tai is predicted to be confirmed because the Biden administration’s commerce consultant.
Katherine Tai, President Biden’s decide for U.S. Commerce Consultant (USTR), informed Senators on Thursday that if confirmed, she’s going to work to enact a “worker-centric commerce coverage” that helps “American communities emerge out of disaster and into better prosperity.”
Throughout her prolonged affirmation listening to earlier than the Senate Finance Committee, Tai touched on plenty of commerce points, from the continued world scarcity of semiconductor chips to mental property theft to beef exports to the World Commerce Group (WTO). However a typical theme all through was Tai’s acknowledged need to implement commerce coverage that “works for our staff” and helps get the economic system again on monitor within the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We should pursue commerce insurance policies that advance the pursuits of all Individuals — insurance policies that acknowledge that individuals are staff and wage earners, not simply shoppers; insurance policies that promote broad, equitable progress right here at dwelling; insurance policies that help American innovation and improve our aggressive edge,” she mentioned.
We’re supportive of Tai’s nomination right here on the Alliance for American Manufacturing; our President Scott Paul even despatched the Senate Finance Committee a letter of help earlier this week.
Not that she actually wants our assist. Tai is anticipated to be simply confirmed as USTR, partially as a result of she already is way revered on Capitol Hill in relation to commerce issues.
Not like a few of Biden’s picks for cupboard positions, Tai wasn’t a public determine earlier than being nominated for USTR. However she’s well-known in D.C. commerce coverage circles. Tai labored within the USTR workplace from 2007 to 2014, and spent a number of years because the chief counsel for China commerce enforcement. She then moved to engaged on commerce points on the Home Methods and Means Committee, the place she was named chief counsel in 2017.
Tai performed a key position in negotiations of the US Mexico Canada Settlement (USMCA), the huge commerce deal that changed the North American Free Commerce Settlement (NAFTA). Her work on the USMCA ultimately led labor unions and Members of Congress who’ve been skeptical of earlier commerce agreements, like Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), to help its passage.
The USMCA included plenty of key provisions to strengthen labor and environmental requirements, together with enforcement instruments. Tai mentioned she’s dedicated to utilizing these new instruments as USTR to make sure the deal is correctly enforced.
All through the listening to, Tai famous that over the previous a number of years, there was a transparent shift within the common consensus in relation to commerce coverage. Whereas that consensus as soon as centered round the concept that we must always pursue open commerce as a lot as doable, now there’s a extra nuanced view, as it’s clear free commerce additionally has created some damaging penalties.
“Over time, the developments we see are a race to the underside. With elevated financial and commerce exercise, we aren’t essentially seeing mentioning requirements with respect to staff and environmental requirements,” Tai mentioned. “I believe this prompts us to have this inform our rethink of our strategic commerce insurance policies, and determine how commerce coverage could be carried out in a means that it really does elevate all boats.”
One of many foremost issues on the commerce entrance, in fact, is China.
The final consensus view when China entered the WTO again in 2001 was that it could open up its economic system and develop into extra democratic. The alternative has occurred, and China’s authorities has used state-owned enterprises, large subsidies and different unfair commerce practices to pursue its targets of dominating world markets.
“I believe it’s clear that after we as Individuals, with our financial traditions, have a look at the Chinese language economic system, what we see is an especially formidable competitor, the place the state is ready to conduct the economic system virtually as a conductor with an orchestra,” Tai mentioned.
Tai didn’t provide many specifics on how she plans to counter China (a lot to the annoyance of some observers). As an alternative, she mentioned that the US should determine a method to tackle China whereas additionally staying true to our personal values of “freedom, democracy, reality, and alternative.”
“China is concurrently a rival, a commerce accomplice, and an outsized participant whose cooperation we’ll additionally want to handle sure world challenges. We should keep in mind methods to stroll, chew gum and play chess on the identical time,” Tai mentioned. “Which means right here at dwelling, we should prioritize resilience and make the investments in our individuals and our infrastructure to harness our potential, enhance our competitiveness, and construct a extra inclusive prosperity. We should additionally impart the values and guidelines that information world commerce — and we should implement these phrases vigorously.”
One of many lingering questions concerning the China relationship is what occurs to the “Section 1” commerce deal negotiated beneath the Trump administration. Whereas the deal left quite a lot of key points unaddressed, it’s nonetheless on the books. As such, Tai mentioned she’s dedicated within the near-term to implementing it, together with holding China accountable for agreements it made within the deal.
However Tai additionally made positive to subtly spotlight a shift in technique from the earlier administration, pledging to work with allies to tackle China and reform key worldwide establishments, such because the WTO. Engagement is important, Tai mentioned – however famous that the WTO wants to determine methods to deal with most of the challenges dealing with the world immediately, and the challenges that exist between member nations.
“We have to be having laborious conversations in Geneva, in a constructive means,” Tai mentioned.
As we talked about earlier, Tai touched on an entire lot of various commerce points all through the three-and-a-half hour listening to. You possibly can take a look at extra of the highlights by way of this Twitter thread we put collectively whereas watching it, or you possibly can take a look at the whole factor for your self right here.