Trade Ambassador Katherine Tai on ways to improve Supply Chain Resiliency

The pandemic has called attention to how a “just in time” trade system can fail when supply chains lack resiliency.

The Biden Administration is focused on creating a “worker-centered” trade policy that prioritizes the interests of people and their livelihoods, according to Trade Ambassador Katherine Tai who says it motivates her office.

“We need to ensure that trade as we conducted, supply chains as we devise them, are built for resilience for the sake of maintaining us and allowing for a high standard of living for our people. Sustainability for our people and for our planet.”

From bottlenecks at ports to countries limiting exports of critical supplies, she says change will require a new way of thinking.

“On the way to addressing these vulnerabilities, I want to be balanced in how we continue to talk to each other and maintain this space to bring new thinking and creative thinking to how we trade how we devise our supply chains and how we design them for resilience as opposed to just efficiency.”

Tai says the Biden Administration is already working on transformational changes for US trading systems.

“President Biden just last week, or sorry, just this week announced a $14 billion investment in us ports to improve and strengthen our waterways supply chains. Last week, Transportation Secretary Buttigieg announced the largest investment in our bridges in us history. That’s $27.5 billion dollars to help fix more than 15,000 bridges. And just to say that this spirit of investment and innovation and renewal needs to be ongoing.”

She also says they will continue focusing on global collaboration.

“The opportunity that we have right now is one to invest and reinvest, invest in our commitment to the World Trade Organization, the world trading system, invest in bringing an energy of innovation and improvement to the way we do trade.”

During the panel event, other participants called on the us to be more involved in World Trade Organization reform including the dispute settlement process.

USTR has faced some criticism for getting off to a slow start in the first year of the administration, but during a house ag committee hearing last week, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said they are in the process of vetting a Chief Ag Trade Negotiator and hope to have that position in place soon.


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