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U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai on the Biden Administration’s Trade Agenda

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The Biden administration is focused on building a trade policy that grows the economy “from the bottom up and middle out,” Tai says.

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai touted the value of Made in America in a speech given this week at the 2022 SelectUSA Investment Summit, noting that the Biden administration is committed to building resilient trade partnerships that will help rebuild supply chains and the American middle class.

Hosted by the Commerce Department and International Trade Administration, SelectUSA is an annual conference designed to encourage foreign investment in the United States. This year’s event was held in-person right outside Washington, D.C., featuring speeches from experts, networking opportunities, and interactive exhibits.

In her speech, Tai highlighted the importance and power of the SelectUSA initiative and Made in America by borrowing words from former President Barack Obama:

So you should find out why there’s no substitute for those proud words: ‘Made in America.’ And here’s three more words: ‘Select the USA.’  When you do, you’ll find some of the world’s best workers, some of the world’s most innovative entrepreneurs.  You’ll find a government, and a President who is committed to helping you create more good jobs for the middle class, and helping you succeed well into the 21st century.”

This sentiment is still true today. Tai reaffirmed the Biden administration’s commitment to a trade agenda that supports an economy “designed to grow the economy from the bottom up and the middle out.”

That includes an emphasis on creating high-paying, sustainable jobs for American workers, and investing in trade relationships that help rebuild the middle class.

But how can international trade foster Made in America products?

Tai spotlighted the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, noting that South Korean semiconductor manufacturer SK Siltron this year announced a $300 million investment in Bay County, Michigan. This investment will “double the number of people they employ in the state.  It will create good-paying jobs and provide manufacturing and R&D capabilities of advanced materials for electric vehicles,” Tai said.

The need for strategic trade partners has become more apparent in recent years, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which have led to major shortages in everything from face masks to semiconductors.

“It is clear that we face serious vulnerabilities in our global supply chains and need to update the rules that govern global trade and investment,” Tai said.

Tai noted that she accompanied President Biden to Tokyo to launch talks on the new Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity, which includes 13 countries from across the region. A few weeks ago, Tai convened a meeting with trade ministers from these countries to focus on a trade pillar that includes “labor, environment, digital economy and emerging technology, trade facilitation, agriculture, competition policy, transparency and good regulatory practices, and development and economic cooperation.”

In her remarks, Tai also shared updates on the launch of the U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade and the World Trade Organization’s recent 12th Ministerial Conference.

The Biden administration has maintained that it is focused on creating a “worker-centered” trade policy. And in her speech, Tai committed to relying on the counsel and support of American businesses to ensure the goals of her office support American workers, businesses, and families.

“We know we can’t do this work alone,” she said. “Many of the businesses here today represent a critical link connecting the government to the private sector to our ability to foster growth in our economy and in the global economy.”

You can find Tai’s full remarks here.

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