Press Releases

New Chair of trade panel calls for strong environmental policies in trade agreements

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, on the Senate floor, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), senior member of Senate Finance Committee, expressed his full support for Katherine Tai, the first woman of color be nominated to serve as United States Trade Representative (USTR). In his remarks, Senator Carper highlighted Ms. Tai’s decades of experience in trade, years of experience working in a bipartisan fashion, and keen understanding of the role Congress can play alongside the Administration to implement successful trade policies.

As the Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee and of the Senate Finance Committee’s International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness Subcommittee, Senator Carper also emphasized that unlike the chaos caused by Trump’s haphazard trade wars, Ms. Tai will be a steady hand at USTR, and will build upon the progress that was made in the bipartisan USMCA.

“Katherine comes to this role with an exceptional breadth and depth of relevant trade expertise. She has earned a remarkable reputation as an expert in her field and as a leader who is respected by Democrats and Republicans alike,” said Senator Carper. “Katherine worked to secure historically strong environmental provisions, including new monitoring and enforcement tools in the USMCA. These new tools and resources will help ensure that environmental protections are not just words on a piece of paper, but policies that will actually be put into practice and consistently maintained into the future.”

“As the daughter of immigrants, and the first woman of color to be nominated as USTR… we would be lucky to have Katherine Tai, a committed public servant, to represent our nation on the world stage,” Senator Carper added. “As the world grapples with the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression, it’s more important now than ever to have a leader at USTR who will work with Congress to advance a trade agenda that uplifts American workers in every corner of our country, spurs domestic manufacturing, and improves environmental and labor standards throughout the world.”

Background:

In the last Congress, Senator Carper helped to ensure that the new treaty to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), known as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), had the strongest environmental provisions in any trade agreement we’ve seen to date. Under the previous NAFTA, non-governmental organizations and individuals in NAFTA countries could submit allegations of environmental violations to the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC). Critics pointed out that, under the previous system, the production of a factual record is disconnected from any real threat of a meaningful enforcement action. Under USMCA’s newly created enforcement mechanism spearheaded by Senator Carper and Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), when the CEC produces a factual record, the new Interagency Environment Committee – headed by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) – must review the factual record and make a determination within 30 days as to whether environmental enforcement actions under USMCA will be pursued. If the Committee decides not to pursue enforcement actions, it must notify Congress within 30 days of its decision and provide Congress with a written justification for that decision.

Senator Carper’s full remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below and can also be viewed HERE:

“M. President, I rise today in full support of Katherine Tai, President Biden’s nominee to be our next U.S. Trade Representative. As my colleagues are well aware, trade is an issue that impacts every corner of our country and every corner of our globe. 

“M. President, roughly 75 percent of world purchasing power and over 95 percent of world consumers lie outside our border.  If the U.S. is going to continue to be successful, we need to able to tap into those markets and expand trading opportunities while ensuring a level playing field for American businesses. In Delaware, and around the nation, trade policies affect how American businesses — large and small — financial services, tech companies, workers, and farmers can compete in the global economy.

“But thanks to President Trump’s haphazard trade wars, American farmers, manufacturers, producers, and consumers too often have been left hanging in the balance, a situation that has been exacerbated by the pandemic. Now more than ever, all of them are need of greater certainty and predictability. Instead of the chaotic approach of the past four years, we need strategic and thoughtful trade policies.

“That’s why President Biden has nominated Katherine Tai, an experienced public servant and trade expert, to serve as our country’s top trade official. Katherine will be a steady hand at USTR and, as a key member of the Biden Administration, she will make sure that our trade policies benefit all Americans and leave no one behind. She will work to help jumpstart our economy and ensure that American goods and services can reach international markets and that we can compete on a level playing field.

“M. President, Katherine comes to this role with an exceptional breadth and depth of relevant trade expertise. She has earned a remarkable reputation as an expert in her field and as a leader who is respected by Democrats and Republicans alike. In her previous role, Katherine was the Chief Trade Counsel for the House Ways and Means Committee. There, she was a lead negotiator on the USMCA, which notably passed Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support. In no part small because of her efforts.

“Members of my staff were grateful for the opportunity to work with Katherine to secure historically strong environmental provisions, including new monitoring and enforcement tools in the USMCA, which will help make sure that alleged environmental violations will be investigated and remedied in a timely manner. These new tools and resources will help ensure that environmental protections are not just words on a piece of paper, but policies that will actually be put into practice and consistently maintained into the future. As the Chairman of both the Environment and Public Works Committee and the Finance Subcommittee on International Trade, I look forward to working with my colleagues and Katherine Tai to build on the progress that was made in the USMCA.

“M. President, another immense trade challenge that we face is how to effectively counter China’s unfair practices and its expanding influence in international trade. Since joining the World Trade Organization, the WTO, in 2001, China has proven to be a bad actor time and time again. I believe that by working with our allies in the Pacific Rim, in a similar spirit to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, we can more effectively ensure that China adheres to its trade commitments with us and the rest of the world. Katherine has the expertise to help make that happen. Her prior experience as USTR’s Chief Counsel for China Trade Enforcement, where she led efforts to hold China accountable at the WTO for its unfair trade practices, will prove to be a tremendous asset for our nation.

“M. President, we would be lucky to have Katherine Tai, a committed public servant, represent our nation on the world stage. As the daughter of immigrants, and the first woman of color to be nominated as USTR, Katherine often cites her parents, also both public servants, as her inspiration. In her testimony to the Finance Committee, Katherine said, and I quote, ‘I am proud of their service to the nation that welcomed them. And I am proud to live in a country where in just one generation, their daughter could grow up to represent the United States and our interests around the globe.’ I, too, am proud to serve a country where this is possible.

“M. President, simply put, Katherine has decades of experience in trade, years of experience working in a bipartisan fashion, and a keen understanding of the role Congress can play alongside the Administration to implement successful trade policies. As the world grapples with the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression, it’s more important now than ever to have a leader at USTR who will work with Congress to advance a trade agenda that uplifts American workers in every corner of our country, spurs domestic manufacturing, and improves environmental and labor standards throughout the world.

“And, given Katherine’s track record and many years of experience working across the aisle in Congress, I am confident she has the broad support necessary to be a highly skilled and effective USTR as she takes on the many trade challenges we face. I invite my colleagues to join me in voting to confirm Katherine Tai to serve as our next Trade Representative. M. President, I yield the floor."

###