Katherine Tai, the future face of American commerce

Katherine Tai is fluent in Mandarin, taught English for two years at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, and was a trade negotiator with China between 2007 and 2011. In 2019, she ensured that social clauses be included in the new free trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, much to the satisfaction of Democrats and unions. And, about Europe, we don’t know much.

The choice, formalized Thursday, December 10, of this adviser to the House of Representatives to become a representative for the trade of the United States sums up, by itself, the priorities of Joe Biden, after four years of all-out trade wars led by Donald Trump . After its confirmation by the Senate, this Democrat of Asian origin who is entitled only to glowing comments in the press will succeed Robert Lighthizer.

First of all, it will be a continuation of the confrontation with China, but harder and more coherent. Mme Tai, a graduate in history from Yale University and law at Harvard, will have to tackle issues not dealt with during the Sino-American trade armistice signed in early 2020: forced technology transfers, subsidies to Chinese companies. Mr. Biden has already indicated that he intends to use the weapon of human rights, in Hong Kong and in response to the repression of the Uyghurs, but also that of the climate, to counter the alleged environmental dumping of industrialists Chinese.

A consensus in the United States on China

The question of massive tariffs imposed by Donald Trump is open, no one in Washington predicting an immediate step back by Joe Biden. The confrontation with Beijing is the subject of a consensus in the United States, and the Democrats have largely approved the anti-Chinese measures: they have been tougher than Donald Trump on the boycott of the telecoms companies ZTE and Huawei, accused of ‘have violated US technology embargoes, and voted to threaten to pull 217 Chinese listed companies off Wall Street.

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Second axis, the American worker. Joe Biden has adopted a “Build Back Better” program, which furiously recalls the “Make America great again” by Donald Trump. The American unions had demanded that the agreement with Mexico include social clauses in the industry – in terms of wages and social rights – supposed to force the Mexican government to increase the minimum wage in car factories to 16 dollars per l ‘hour. This strategy will be continued, the appointment press release specifying that Mr.me Tai “Will pursue the president-elect’s vision of a pro-worker trade strategy in the United States”. The battle to implement this agreement has only just begun: the United States is already accusing Canada of not respecting its commitments to open up to dairy products from the United States.

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