AFL-CIO praises Biden trade pick Tai as ‘worker-champion’
The AFL-CIO, the country’s largest coalition of unions, praised President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for U.S. trade representative, calling nominee Katherine Tai a “worker-champion.”
“The labor movement and other worker advocates have long been denied a seat at the negotiating table, meaning corporate interests have had exclusive authorship of America’s trade agenda,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.
“Katherine Tai’s nomination signals a stark departure from the failed practices of the past.”
Tai played a key role in shaping the United States Mexico Canada Agreement — which the AFL-CIO endorsed — as the top trade counsel for the House Ways and Means committee, and previously headed the USTR legal team on China issues.
Trumka praised her work on enforceable labor provisions in the USMCA, a key Democratic demand for approving the update to the North American Free Trade Agreement demanded by President Trump. Democrats called the final product a model for future trade deals.
During the presidential primary campaign, progressive Democrats such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) campaigned on giving labor a greater voice in trade negotiations.
As USTR, Tai will be in the position to enforce existing trade deals and work out trade disputes with countries such as China.
Business trade groups that depend on trade also spoke highly of the pick.
“This selection is welcome news to the U.S. textile industry, which has worked closely with Katherine on several critical trade issues over the years,” said National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) President and CEO Kim Glas.
“She is an exceptional candidate to serve as the next USTR, having dedicated her career to enforcing our trade laws, and, most recently, serving as a key lead negotiator in the House securing key improvements in the USMCA agreement.”
The chemical industry, a major exporter that depends on imported raw materials, praised her “wealth of experience and technical knowledge,” and pushed her to overturn Trump policies on trade.
“The current costly tariff policy continues to cut into our industry’s competitive advantage,” said American Chemistry Council (ACC) President and CEO Chris Jahn.
“We look forward to working with Ms. Tai, once confirmed, to reduce trading costs, enhance manufacturing competitiveness, and establish a more predictable trading environment for the United States and our closest trading partners.”
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