Biden selects longtime China critic Katherine Tai as top U.S. trade

Katherine Tai speaks during a Home Ways and Ways Committee conference to think about the US-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade arrangement in 2019. CSPAN

President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday named Katherine Tai, a trade lawyer with a history of handling China, as his incoming administration’s pick for the United States’ top trade representative. If verified by the Senate, Tai would acquire a vital, Cabinet-level position entrusted with enforcing America’s import guidelines and brokering trading terms with China and other nations. Tai, who is Asian-American, would also be the very first female of color to act as the USTR. She is proficient in Mandarin. In choosing Tai, the senior trade legal representative on the Home Ways and Means Committee, the Biden group likely signals an intent to go back to a more multilateral trade technique to advance U.S. trade interests and confront growing financial competitors from China. The president-elect heralded Tai’s experience in a news release on Thursday as key to essential insights while the inbound administration reviews the trade offer outgoing President Donald Trump brokered with Beijing. “Her deep experience will allow the Biden-Harris administration to strike the ground operating on trade, and harness the power of our trading relationships to help the U.S. remove of the COVID-induced economic crisis and pursue the President-elect’s vision of a pro-American worker trade strategy,” the Biden transition team composed. Tai would be successful present trade czar Robert Lighthizer, whose accomplishments during the Trump administration consist of a more-forceful tact in settlements with Beijing and the imposition of hundreds of billions of dollars worth of tariffs on goods imported from China.

China’s Vice Premier Liu He turns with U.S. Trade Agent Robert Lighthizer during a conference with U.S. President Donald Trump in the Oval Workplace at the White Home in Washington, February 22, 2019. Carlos Barria|Reuters

Though Tai may prefer multilateral enforcement mechanisms more than Lighthizer, her leadership as USTR wouldn’t always signify a change to the tougher position towards China. She has said that China needs to be attended to powerfully and tactically. “They both likewise have a long history of handling China’s unfair practices, the most pressing trade issue of our time,” according to former leading White Home trade negotiator Clete Willems. “Where Katherine’s approach is most likely to vary is on how she utilizes the WTO system and alliances to pressure China to change behavior.” From 2007 to 2014, Tai effectively prosecuted Washington’s conflicts against Beijing at the WTO, the global trade organization based in Geneva, Switzerland. Lighthizer and his team, frustrated with what they deemed slow-moving bureaucracy and China’s influence at the WTO and World Bank, typically decided to work around the WTO and take a more direct technique through tariffs. The U.S. still has import responsibilities on $370 billion of Chinese imports. “As the former head of USTR’s China trade enforcement, Katherine has experience taking and winning joint WTO disagreements versus China while partnering with nations like the EU and Japan and is most likely to pursue a comparable method,” Willems, now a partner at Akin Gump, added in an email. Willems likewise noted that Tai’s fluency in Mandarin would command regard at the negotiating table with China.

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden reveals the members of his health group, at the Queen Theater December 08, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. Chip Somodevilla|Getty Images

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