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Senate confirms Katherine Tai as trade representative

Senate confirms Katherine Tai as trade representative

Industry groups look forward to working with her to boost ag exports

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

The U.S. ag industry now knows who will officially represent their interests during trade negotiations after the U.S. Senate confirmed Katherine Tai to be the U.S. trade representative (USTR).

Out of 100 senators, 98 voted in favor of Tai. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hi.) were absent during the March 17 vote.

As USTR, Tai’s responsibilities will include “developing and coordinating U.S. international trade, commodity and direct investment policy, and overseeing negotiations with other countries,” the USTR’s website says.

Tai’s experience includes working on trade issues with China during the Obama Administration and helping negotiate parts of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

Ag industry groups welcomed Tai’s confirmation and look forward to working with her to create more opportunities for American agriculture.

“We have a great opportunity to build on existing agreements with China and our North American neighbors, as well as create new opportunities with the European Union and the United Kingdom,” Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said in a statement. “Ms. Tai’s ability to build bipartisan support for policies and her experience with enforcing fair-trade rules will help America’s farmers and ranchers compete internationally and continue putting food on tables around the world.”

Organizations representing wheat producers also welcomed Tai’s confirmation.

The Phase One agreement between China and the U.S. celebrated its one-year anniversary in January.

Wheat organizations are optimistic Tai can hold China to account on its parts of the deal and other issues between the two countries.

Tai’s confirmation comes at a crucial time for U.S. wheat trade,” U.S. Wheat Associated President Vince Peterson said in a release. “After seeing early, encouraging returns on the Phase One agreement with China, we are looking ahead as the WTO moves to the compliance phase of the 2019 dispute case won by the United States against China’s unfair administration of their grain tariff rate quotas. U.S. wheat farmers will also want Tai to hold China to the additional enforcement language in the Phase One agreement.”

The Agricultural Retailers Association also applauded Tai’s confirmation.

“She has the experience and expertise to secure greater market access for U.S. products and ensure enforcement of clear and fair rules with our trade partners,” ARA President and CEO Daren Coppock said in a statement.

With Tai’s confirmation, 18 of President Biden’s cabinet picks have been secured.

The only nominees still awaiting full Senate votes are:

  • Marty Walsh as labor secretary
  • Xavier Becerra as health and human services secretary
  • William Burns as CIA director

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