U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai Outlines Biden-Harris Administration’s Historic “Worker-Centered Trade Policy”

June 10, 2021

In a speech before the AFL-CIO, Ambassador Tai makes the case for why workers need to be part of trade negotiations.

WASHINGTON – Today United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai delivered remarks and participated in an AFL-CIO town hall to highlight the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to developing a worker-centered trade policy.  The policy, which supports the Administration’s Build Back Better agenda and President Biden’s belief that the economy must grow from the bottom up and the middle out, puts workers at the center of the development and implementation of the United States’ trade policy.

In her speech, Ambassador Tai  stated that bringing workers to the table early on and throughout the negotiating process is crucial in making sure they reap the rewards of trade agreements. Ambassador Tai also discussed how she wants to lift up a worker-centered trade policy on the international stage – and use its values to help modernize institutions like the World Trade Organization.

Excerpts of the remarks are below: 

“We know that trade is essential to a functioning global economy. It is clear, however, that the past promises made to workers on trade were not met.  Certain sectors of the economy have done well. But far too many communities and workers were left behind. The consequences for families when factories closed and jobs were sent overseas were real. And they were real for the workers who lost their jobs to unfairly traded imports, too. This created a trust gap with the public about free trade.”


“The first step to achieving this goal is creating a more inclusive process. Workers are the real engine of growth and not just a line item in a spreadsheet. In order to understand how trade affects them, we want to come meet with, listen to, and learn from them.”  


“By bringing workers from all backgrounds and experiences to the table, we will create inclusive trade policy that advances economic security and racial and gender equity. We want to lift up women, communities of color, and rural America – people that have been systematically excluded or overlooked.”


“This time we’re putting foreign policy and trade to work for the middle class. That means working with allies on a shared agenda that will lift up workers, increase economic security, and strengthen democracy around the world.”


“The more we invest in our workers at home and abroad, the stronger democracy will be worldwide. And by partnering with our allied democracies, we will more effectively respond to the threats of autocratic, non-market countries whose policies undercut our workers. We’ve shown in our first few months – through USMCA enforcement, our WTO forced labor proposal, and many other actions – that we can craft a worker-centered trade policy if we partner with you.”