Who is Katherine Tai - U.S. Trade Representative: Profile, Personal Life and Career
Photo: The 19th News

Biography

Tai graduated from Yale University and Harvard Law School. She practiced law in Washington, D.C., with a focus on international trade issues. Katherine Tai is a dedicated, deeply respected public servant and veteran international trade expert who has spent her career working to level the playing field for American workers and families. She served as associate general counsel and chief counsel for China trade enforcement at the Office of the United States Trade Representative. In 2014, she began working as the chief trade counsel to the chairman and Democratic members of the House Committee on Ways and Means, according to buildbackbetter.gov.

She has secured key victories for workers in U.S. trade policy and has been praised by lawmakers and lawyers for her work. Prior to the Committee, Tai served in the USTR’s Office of the General Counsel, first as Associate General Counsel from 2007 to 2011 and then as Chief Counsel for China Trade Enforcement with responsibility for the development and litigation of U.S. disputes against China at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

From 2007 to 2014, Ms. Tai worked for the Office of the United States Trade Representative, where she successfully prosecuted several cases on Chinese trade practices at the World Trade Organization.

Before joining USTR, Tai worked in the international trade departments in various Washington, D.C. law firms. From 1996 to 1998, she lived and worked in Guangzhou, China teaching English at Sun Yat-Sen University as a Yale-China Fellow. Tai was born in Connecticut — the first American-born citizen in her family — and raised in the Washington, D.C. area.

Katherine Tai - President-elect Biden's selection for U.S. Trade Representative

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is expected to select Katherine Tai, the chief trade lawyer for the House Ways and Means Committee, as the United States trade representative, a key post that will bear responsibility for enforcing America’s trade rules and negotiating new trading terms with China and other countries, according to people familiar with the plans.

If confirmed, she would be the first Asian American and first woman of color to serve as U.S. Trade Representative. Ms. Tai has garnered strong support from colleagues in Congress, who credit her with helping to wrangle an unruly collection of politicians and interest groups in negotiations to pass the revised North American Free Trade Agreement.

The Biden-Harris transition team made the announcement days after members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus — a bipartisan group of lawmakers — voiced concerns about a lack of Asian American representation in the senior levels of Biden’s Cabinet.

Rep. Grace Meng, the first vice-chair of the caucus, said she had been pushing the incoming administration to include Asian Americans in its top-level ranks and was pleased with Biden’s decision.

For Full list of Biden's nominees and appointees to his cabinet, please click here!

“Tonight’s announcement is a good step toward ensuring our community is represented at the highest levels of government,” Meng said in a statement.

Rep. Judy Chu, the chair of the caucus who has worked closely with Tai on trade issues, said Tai’s nomination is “breaking barriers and clearing the way for others to follow.”

Biden’s transition team also announced several other key members of his administration on Thursday, including several women: Rep. Marcia Fudge as secretary of Housing and Urban Development and Ambassador Susan Rice as director of the Domestic Policy Council.

“This is the right team for this moment in history, and I know that each of these leaders will hit the ground running on day one to take on the interconnected crises families are facing today,” Biden said in a statement, states The 19th News.

Her main role as U.S. Trade Representative

Who is Katherine Tai - U.S. Trade Representative: Profile, Personal Life and Career
Photo: CNBC.com

The new trade representative will also be responsible for reshaping the office to fit Democratic priorities, like increasing protections for workers, mitigating climate change and raising standards for consumer protections. Mr. Biden’s pick will also be responsible for rebuilding trading relations that have been strained by Mr. Trump’s aggressive approach, including with Europe, Canada, Japan and Mexico.

Supporters say Ms. Tai is also uniquely positioned to address economic challenges from China, regarded as America’s biggest source of competition in the trade sphere.

In addition to litigating trade disputes against China at the World Trade Organization over issues including subsidies and export restraints, Ms. Tai worked on China-related issues during her time in the House, including strategies to reshore American supply chains and legislation to bar imports made with forced labor from Uighurs and other minorities in China.

Ms. Tai has a background in China, having served as a teaching fellow there in the late 1990s and speaking fluent Mandarin Chinese.

In the House, she also led an effort to look at the legacy of racial injustice in U.S. trade policy, and how gains from trade could be made more inclusive, cites nytimes.

Why would the role be special for her?

If selected by Biden, Tai would be the first woman of color and first Asian American to hold the role of top US trade negotiator.

The post is a Cabinet-level position.

Lawmakers have previously been impressed by Tai's handling of congressional negotiations with the Trump administration over the US-Mexico-Canada deal that replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement.

She pushed tough labor and environmental standards that, her supporters say, Biden could apply to future negotiations.

For full list of Biden's nominees and appointees to his administration, please click here!

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