Tracking the Biden Trade Transition and Transition Teams

Arent Fox

Section 1: The Biden Transition
This is Washington and so we start and end with US trade policy. Our team is tracking the Biden Transition, starting with the introduction of Katherine Tai, nominee for the next US Trade Representative.

President-elect Biden will be inaugurated on January 20, 2021. Here is how his trade team and agenda are shaping up.

Who’s Who

  • President-elect Biden has moved quickly to build his trade team.
  • Notably, Katherine Tai, Chief Trade Counsel for the US House Committee on Ways and Means, was named as the nominee for United States Trade Representative (USTR).
  • Ms. Tai’s background is indicative of the incoming Administration’s likely approach to taking tough stances against China. It is also a good bet that she will fully implement and enforce the strong labor provisions in the US-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) Agreement, which she was instrumental in negotiating.
  • For Secretary of Commerce, we could see Biden reach across the aisle and pick a Republican nominee.

What to Know

  • Strong US trade enforcement activities will remain an important priority for the Biden era as it has been during the preceding four years – from “border enforcement” to broader US countervailing and antidumping investigations.
  • Although Biden has moved quickly to build his trade team, we expect that Congressional confirmation of the nominees and any subsequent action will take some time.
  • We expect that the US relationship with China will continue to dominate the US trade agenda. The USTR and the Biden Administration will likely retain a tough stance vis a vis China, although with a different approach than the Trump Administration, achieving this by rebuilding multilateral trade relationships and trust in international institutions.
  • In the next months, we expect that the USTR will focus on managing existing trade initiatives, including US Section 232 and 301 tariffs, and not necessarily pursuing new projects.
  • But first, President-elect Biden has vowed a US domestic focus – to invest in and protect US business against injurious trade practices, “leveling the playing field” for American workers.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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