USTR Tai to AAM: U.S. Trade Policy Should Reinforce Our Ability to Make Things in America

By Matthew McMullan
Dec 01 2023 |
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai (center) with National Council of Textile Organizations President Kim Glas (far left), United Steelworkers President Dave McCall (third from left) and Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul (second from right). AAM photo

The nation’s top trade diplomat offered remarks at our Made In America Holiday Gift Guide gathering.

The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) held a reception this week at Shinola’s Washington, D.C. store to show off some of the cool gifts featured in this year’s Made In America Holiday Gift Guide. On display we had MASU from Missouri, American Roots from Maine, Anchor Hocking from Ohio, and Smoke Perfume from Louisiana, among other items. Across category and price point, the gift guide has truly got something for everyone. Buy American this holiday season!

We also had a special guest: United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai, the Biden administration’s chief trade diplomat and the architect of its trade policy. AAM is a fan of the work she’s done since assuming the role in 2021. Under her leadership, the U.S. is working on a clean steel trading agreement with the European Union; has used the enforcement tools in the recently enacted USMCA to protect workers in Mexico; and has focused on eradicating the use of underlying forced labor in trade with the United States.

Ambassador Tai has been an effective Trade Rep; it’s why we endorsed her nomination and cheered when it was confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Here’s a little of what Ambassador Tai had to say in brief remarks to the gathered crowd:

As part of the worker-centered trade policy, I make it a habit of not only meeting trade ministers from all countries but talking to them about workers. I think it makes them uncomfortable and annoyed. But I keep doing it, and when I visit them in-country I insist on meeting not just them but also their labor minister colleagues and, whenever possible, workers in those countries. The whole theory to this is that in order to be a better trade partner to the United states, you have to meet us where we’re at.

And where we’re at right now is a profound understanding that in order to have a trade policy where the United States can lead, we have to do trade differently. And this is why President Biden has asked for a worker-centered trade policy. The president talks about his vision for the economy, which is built from the bottom up and middle out; and his understanding that the American middle class built our economy and labor unions built the middle class.

That is the bedrock for our approach to trade.  No more trickle-down, no more top-down; we have to harness that power of our trade policies to reinforce the power of our workers, the power of our ability as an economy to make things.

She went on:

We are very proud of realigning our trade policies to support all the investments this administration has made, whether its in infrastructure, chips, or the Inflation Reduction Act. … But we can’t do it alone. We’re only going to succeed in this vision by having partnership with all of you.

We can’t do it alone either. Sign up for AAM’s Daily Digest, a weekday morning roundup of manufacturing-centric stories we’re following. Stay up to date with us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. And, once again, don’t forget to browse the Made In America Holiday Gift Guide.