The Biden transition did not want to comment.
A former Chinese executive chief of the USTR who is fluent in Mandarin, supporters say Tai has expertise that could help the U.S. face Beijing on issues such as forced labor and intellectual property rights while maintaining a working trade relationship between the world’s two largest economies.
Legislators in both chambers were impressed with how Tai handled negotiations in Congress with the Trump administration to change the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement that replaced NAFTA. His supporters say the strict labor and environmental standards he has incorporated into the pact could serve as an example of Biden’s team negotiating other trade agreements with reluctant countries.
It is crucial for Biden that Washington’s workforce and large corporate groups privately indicated that they were open to Tai as a candidate. Democratic supporters say he could win bipartisan support in the Senate. Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), who is expected to chair the Finance Committee if the GOP retains control of the chamber, did not respond to comments on his potential nomination.
A candidate with Hill’s experience could be helpful, given that a major trade law, the Trade Development Authority, is expiring next summer, launching a potential legislative battle. Representative Earl Blumenauer, head of the House Ways and Means Commercial Board, said he could consider significant changes to the White House’s negotiating authority under the law after many Democrats thought Trump abused it.