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US Senate to hold confirmation hearing for trade representative

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US Senate to hold confirmation hearing for trade representative

Katherine Tai
Photo: USCBC

The US Senate Finance Committee will hold a confirmation hearing today for Katherine Tai, President Joe Biden’s pick to serve as US Trade Representative.

Tai’s nomination underscores the importance Biden places on addressing China’s trade practices, often described as predatory by US officials. Fluent in Mandarin and a previous chief counsel for China trade enforcement, Tai has advocated for Washington at the World Trade Organization concerning Beijing’s illegal export quotas. Expect Tai to secure confirmation with overwhelming bipartisan support.

While Tai will pursue objectives set out by former president Donald Trump’s China policy, her approach will differ considerably. Rather than unilateral initiatives and short-term bilateral deals, expect Tai to push for a multilateral front that forces Beijing to become a rule-taker rather than a rule-maker. If the US finds common regulatory ground with the EU, ASEAN, Brazil, Japan, Canada and Mexico, China will find it difficult to rebuff the emerging global consensus. Tai will also call for new US infrastructure and R&D initiatives to counter Beijing’s projects instead of relying on sanctions and tariffs.

However, Tai will face difficulty in promoting a US-led trade order. Washington’s backtrack on critical trade agreements under the former administration, which ran concurrent to Beijing’s successful negotiations in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and an EU-China Investment Agreement, suggests Tai will face an uphill battle convincing partners the US is committed to the challenge.

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