WASHINGTON – President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is expected to elect Katherine Tai, chief commercial attorney for the House Ways and Means Committee, as the U.S. trade representative, a key post on enforcing U.S. trade rules and negotiating new terms of trade with China and others. countries according to people who know the plans.
Ms. Tai received strong support from her colleagues in Congress, who owe it to her that she helped cope with the unruly collection of politicians and interest groups in the negotiations for the adoption of the revised North American Free Trade Agreement. Between 2007 and 2014, Ms. Tai worked in the office of the U.S. Trade Representative, where she successfully filed a number of cases with the World Trade Organization in China regarding Chinese trade practices.
If confirmed, Ms. Tai, who is Asian-American, would be the first colored woman to be a U.S. trade representative, a cabinet-level official who holds the rank of ambassador.
The selection of Ms. Tai was previously reported by Politico.
Although Mr Biden said he did not intend to start negotiating new free trade agreements until he had made “significant investments at home and in our workers,” his trade representative still has plenty to do. These tasks are likely to include ensuring that U.S. trade rules are properly enforced and that they promote rather than hinder other parts of Mr. Biden’s agenda, including combating climate change and encouraging domestic investment, such as expanding Buy American programs.
Congressional Democrats have fought for the partial appointment of Ms. Tai because they believe it would play a key role in complying with the terms of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement that will replace NAFTA this year. This includes bringing in new commercial cases for Mexican factories violating labor rules, and ensuring that Mexico follows its labor system with ambitious reforms.
Ms. Tai, as chief adviser to the Ways and Means Committee, played a key role in developing the democratic demand for the final changes to the USMCA, which was discussed by the Trump government. In this capacity, he balanced the competing needs of trade unions, environmental groups, corporate lobbyists, and the administration, and helped conclude a deal that went ahead with great supremacy in both houses of Congress.
In a November letter to Mr. Biden, ten female House Democrats wrote that Ms. Tai’s central role in this trial “uniquely enables her to lead enforcement and enforcement efforts” as the next commercial representative.
“Miss. Tai knows all the means available to hold Mexico and Canada accountable,” lawmakers wrote.
Although there is sometimes a lower-level position, the post of trade representative has become increasingly important under President Trump, who has used the office to impose significant tariffs on foreign countries and negotiate a series of smaller or larger trade agreements.
Mr. Biden’s chief trade negotiator will be tasked with dealing with much of that legacy, including deciding whether to continue to impose tariffs on Chinese goods and continue to allow tariffs on certain companies. Many of these exclusions expire on December 31, and it remains unclear whether Mr. Trump plans to extend them.
The new commercial representative will be tasked with redesigning the office in line with democratic priorities, such as enhancing worker protection, mitigating climate change and raising the level of consumer protection. Mr Biden’s election will also be responsible for rebuilding trade relations, which have been strained by Mr Trump’s aggressive approach, including with Europe, Canada, Japan and Mexico.
Supporters say Ms. Tai is also in a unique position to address China’s economic challenges, which America sees as the biggest source of competition in trade.
In addition to trade disputes with China at the World Trade Organization, including subsidies and export restrictions, Ms. Tai worked on issues related to China during her time in the House, including strategies for relocating U.S. supply chains and legislation to prevent imports. forced labor from the Uyghurs and other Chinese minorities.
Ms. Tai’s background is in China, she worked there as a teacher in the late 1990s and was fluent in Mandarin Chinese.
The House also sought to examine the legacy of racial injustice in U.S. trade policy and how the benefits of trade could be made more inclusive.
Thomas Kaplan and Emily Cochrane contributed to the report.