WASHINGTON, USA – Ambassador Katherine Tai and the Office of the United States Trade Representative, on Tuesday, delivered president Biden’s 2022 Trade Policy Agenda and 2021 Annual Report to Congress. This report details USTR’s work to implement the Biden administration’s trade priorities and advance a worker-centred trade policy.
Over the last year, ambassador Tai and USTR, working with partners across the Biden administration, have pursued a new approach to trade policy that empowers workers, defends their rights, and stops the global race-to-the-bottom. By reaching new and historic agreements with our allies, ambassador Tai and USTR have revitalized important global partnerships and built coalitions around shared priorities and values.
Key elements of the 2022 Trade Policy Agenda and 2021 Annual Report include:
Standing up for workers’ rights: The Biden Administration’s worker-centered trade policy reflects our commitment to use our trade agreements, tools, and relationships to empower workers. We are working with our trading partners to support workers’ rights and stop the global race to the bottom. We will seek to establish new, high-standard commitments on labor rights under our current and new frameworks for trade. Strengthening labor rights will benefit American workers, as well as workers all over the world.
Accelerating decarbonization and promoting sustainable Environmental practices: Combating the climate crisis and promoting sustainable environmental practices are top priorities for the Biden Administration. For many years, trade has been seen as exacerbating these challenges. The same dynamic that has created a race to the bottom with respect to labor rights exists with respect to environmental protection.
Supporting US agriculture: The Biden administration understands the importance of trade to US farmers, ranchers, fishers, and food manufacturers. From 2000 to 2020, annual US agricultural exports grew from $58 billion to $155 billion. Through our commitment to creating sustainable economic growth and establishing a level playing field, USTR is preserving and building on those gains. The Biden administration is also focused on creating new opportunities for American agriculture, including using our existing Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and Trade and Investment Framework Agreements (TIFAs) to support US agriculture exports.
Bolstering supply chain resiliency: Bolstering supply chain resiliency is a critical component of the Biden Administration’s efforts to advance our worker-centered trade policy and create sustainable economic growth. Supply chains are integral to the global trading system, and the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated disruption to the global economy have highlighted major vulnerabilities in our existing supply chains, as well as underscored the importance of promoting supply chain resiliency.
To begin addressing these challenges, president Biden signed Executive Order 14017 (America’s Supply Chains) last year, directing a whole-of-government approach to assess vulnerabilities in, and strengthen the resilience of, critical U.S. supply chains. Pursuant to the Executive Order, the Biden Administration conducted a 100-day review for four priority product areas: semiconductors, large capacity batteries, critical minerals and materials, and pharmaceuticals and active pharmaceutical ingredients.
Following the recommendations that emerged from the 100-day reports, the Biden Administration established an interagency Supply Chain Trade Task Force led by USTR. This task force is directed to identify both unfair foreign trade practices that have eroded US critical supply chains and opportunities to use U.S. trade agreements and future trade agreements to strengthen the collective supply chain resilience of the United States and our trade partners.
Combatting the COVID-19 pandemic: Consistent with our trade policy agenda that recognizes that people are the core of our economy, USTR is working closely with a number of agencies to ensure that trade rules support, and do not impede, the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Biden administration is taking a whole-of-government approach to address the pandemic, at home and abroad. These efforts include COVID-19 vaccine donations through COVAX and other fora, investment in vaccine production and delivery infrastructure in underserved regions, and working with trading partners to identify obstacles and solutions – including through supporting a waiver of intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines at the World Trade Organization (WTO), as well as measures to facilitate the flow of goods necessary to fight the pandemic.
Re-Aligning the US-China trade relationship: The US-China economic and trade relationship is one of profound consequence. As the two largest economies in the world, the bilateral relationship affects not just the two participants, but the entire globe.
The Biden Administration acknowledges that this relationship is complex and competitive. With respect to trade, we can be both partners and competitors, but any competition must be fair. China’s approach to trade drives frictions in many of China’s trade relationships – not just ours. China, as a large, non-market economy, is uniquely able to engage in unfair, anti-competitive practices, which harm workers and businesses in the United States and in other countries, including some of our closest allies and partners. By unduly concentrating production of certain goods in China, these non-market practices also undermine supply chain resilience and harm consumers that, in the long run, are deprived of the innovation and choice that fair competition would produce.
Engaging with key trading partners and multilateral institutions: Growing the middle glass, redressing inequality, and incentivizing climate and environmental action are goals we share with many of our trading partners. Working with others to craft trade policies that promote these goals reflects the American leadership that many of our trading partners are seeking. The Biden administration is meeting the challenge.
Using trade policy as a tool to achieve these shared goals, USTR is stepping up its engagement with partners, allies, multilateral institutions and organizations. These actors and institutions play a pivotal role in cultivating any meaningful outcomes to address shared concerns. But to achieve a more resilient and just global economy, reform is necessary. The policies of the past contributed to contemporary challenges; we need different policies to achieve a different outcome.
Promoting confidence in trade policy through enforcement: The Biden administration is committed to vigorously enforcing our trade agreements as a critical element of pushing a global race to the top. Enforcement is a key component of our worker-centered trade policy agenda. We are using all of the tools at our disposal to combat unfair economic practices, defend American jobs, and create broad-based economic prosperity. American workers and businesses can compete with anyone when the playing field is level and competition is fair, and trade policy is an indispensable tool in achieving those goals. We are shaping a global trading system that enforces labor and environmental standards, protects intellectual property rights, and ensures that regulations are science-based and predictable.
Broad engagement with stakeholders to facilitate inclusive, durable trade policy and promote equity: The Biden administration is committed to thorough engagement as we develop and implement the president’s trade policy agenda. Inclusive engagement is a key component to ensuring that our policies are durable and equitable, as we recognize that a common shortfall of previous trade policy decisions is a failure to engage with communities that will be affected by those decisions. As such, the Biden administration will continue to give all stakeholders a seat at the table as we evaluate and make these decisions.
The full 2022 Trade Policy Agenda and 2021 Annual Report can be viewed here.