Democratic lawmaker calls for stronger focus on trade leverage to raise standards
© Greg Nash

Rep. Rick LarsenRichard (Rick) Ray LarsenDemocratic lawmaker calls for stronger focus on trade leverage to raise standards The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Harris launch Trump offensive in first joint appearance The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden, Harris's first day as running mates MORE (D-Wash.) on Thursday said the U.S. needs to use its leverage in the global economy to improve and raise standards with trading partners.

Speaking at The Hill’s virtual event “Breaking Through: U.S. Businesses Powered By Global Exports,” Larsen said the U.S. should draw on its economic strength to spur changes in other countries.

"It's not just having a seat at the table ... it's coming to the table with something, with our values, with the standards we want to see,” Larsen, who is co-chair of the U.S.-China Working Group, told The Hill’s Steve Clemons.

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He said that rather than engaging in tariff-focused trade agreements, the U.S. should be pressing for transparency and open markets so that they become more the norm in international trade.

“We haven’t been doing that as aggressively as we should,” Larsen said at the event sponsored by Alibaba. “We need to be better at that.”

Another area for improvement, he said, is in tech trade.

“The U.S. needs to be much more aggressive, do a much better job of developing those international coalitions that can be based upon how we would use technology with openness and transparency,” he said.

Tech tensions between the U.S. and China have shot up in recent weeks. President TrumpDonald John TrumpFox News president, top anchors advised to quarantine after coronavirus exposure: report Six notable moments from Trump and Biden's '60 Minutes' interviews Biden on attacks on mental fitness: Trump thought '9/11 attack was 7/11 attack' MORE this month issued an executive order barring any transactions between U.S. companies and the Chinese parent company of TikTok beginning in 45 days, the latest action in the administration's campaign against the app.

The move comes as Trump casts further blame on China for the spread of the coronavirus, with the pandemic causing further strain between the world’s two largest economies.

Larsen, whose home state of Washington has an economy largely focused on trade, said exports are incredibly important because they will help with recovery from the coronavirus recession through job creation and business growth.

“We can do both things at the same time — deal with this pandemic as well as prepare for the recovery,” he said.