President-elect Joe Biden has begun to say who he intends to appoint to cabinet and other high-level posts. On Dec. 10, he announced Katherine Tai as his pick for U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). USTR is the official who advises the president on trade policy and leads trade negotiations with other countries.
Back in 2003, Biden as a U.S. Senator voted for the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Union leaders have been watching closely to see if he’ll break with the NAFTA-style trade policies pursued by presidents Clinton, Bush I and II, and Obama.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said Tai’s appointment is a stark departure from those failed policies. As chief trade counsel for the House Ways and Means Committee the last two years, Tai helped push the Trump Administration to add enforceable labor rights to the agreement with Mexico and Canada that replaced NAFTA. Before that, she spent seven years as an attorney for the USTR specializing in enforcing trade agreements with China.
“With Tai as the U.S. trade representative, we will be strongly positioned to advance a fair trade agenda that makes the world safer and workers strong-er,” Trumka said. “But make no mistake, we still have a long way to go to forge a new trade era that puts workers first.”