Joe Biden is expected to name Katherine Tai, a senior Democrat trade adviser in the House of Representatives, as his top trade envoy, according to people familiar with the plans.
Ms Tai, who is said to be the first Asian-American woman to serve as a U.S. trade representative to cabinet, is widely respected by Democratic lawmakers across the party’s ideological spectrum.
A lawyer who previously worked for the USTR office overseeing trade enforcement in China, Ms. Tai is seen as a diplomatic figure and is credited with managing an array of competing interests to bring together the recent United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement by Congress.
Although Mr Biden said domestic investment would be a higher priority than signing a new Trade agreements for its administration, the incoming USTR will have to mend frayed relations with European capitals, decide how to handle a range of existing tariffs on China and Europe, and push for reform of the World Trade Organization. .
Commerce took center stage under Donald Trump’s administration with the President, with his sales representative Robert Lighthizer pursuing a aggressive tariff regime against foreign countries, especially China, and frequently causing turmoil in global financial markets with unpredictable and sudden policy changes.
Mr. Biden is expected to be more measured in his approach, but many of his proposed policies – such as his plans to force federal agencies to buy American manufactured goods – echo Mr. Trump’s efforts to donate putting American workers first and protecting national industries.
Congressional Democrats will expect a new trade representative to include demands for increased labor and environmental protection in any new trade deal, as well as the enforcement of labor protections enshrined in USMCA.
A Biden administration would likely sue labor violations at Mexican or Canadian factories where worker abuse is reported, and use the protections of the agreement to enforce fair working conditions.
Ms. Tai’s appointment drew favorable comments from high-level lawmakers. Senator Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said Mr Biden’s choice was’ inspired ‘and Ms Tai had worked closely with her office to adopt’ the strongest protections never offered to American workers ”with bipartisan support.
“Ms. Tai has the experience she needs to be successful as a USTR, and her record of winning American workers demonstrates that she knows how to champion the values that matter to American families,” Mr. Wyden said. .
Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown said Ms. Tai was “the most qualified candidate.”