Throughout 2023, Ambassador Tai and the Office of the United States Trade Representative worked tirelessly to deliver on an innovative, inclusive, and worker-centered trade agenda that fulfills President Biden’s vision to grow the economy from the bottom up and the middle out.
In 2023, Ambassador Tai and USTR made clear progress on that mission as they:
- Continued to promote the Biden-Harris Administration’s worker-centered trade agenda by empowering workers in the United States and abroad;
- Unlocked more economic opportunities for America’s agriculture industry, including our farmers and producers, through expanded market access;
- Fought to secure our supply chains and reduce economic vulnerabilities by strengthening existing partnerships and forging new ones around the world;
- Advanced environmental sustainability and environmental protection in our trade agreements and negotiations; and
- Traveled extensively across the United States to meet Americans where they are and include more voices and perspectives in domestic trade policy.
See below for more highlights of Ambassador Tai and USTR’s achievements this year:
CHAMPIONING LABOR RIGHTS AROUND THE WORLD:
- USMCA Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM): USTR increased enforcement of the groundbreaking RRM enforcement tool, requesting Mexico’s review thirteen times in 2023 and eighteen times since the start of the Biden-Harris Administration. This tool has secured tangible results for workers across several industries, including worker reinstatements with backpay, free and fair union representation and elections, and new collective bargaining agreements with considerable increases to wages and improvements in working conditions.
- Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force (FLETF): USTR is an active member of the interagency effort to monitor the enforcement of the prohibition on the import of products made by forced labor into the United States. As a result of the FLETF’s work, 30 companies have been added to the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) Entity List, and any goods made in whole or part by the listed entities are subject to the UFLPA rebuttable presumption and prohibited from import into the United States.
- Launch of President Biden’s Memorandum on Advancing Worker Empowerment, Rights, and High Labor Standards Globally: In San Francisco, Ambassador Tai joined Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su, and labor leaders to launch a comprehensive strategy to fight for workers’ rights around the world. The Memorandum advances a whole-of-government approach to elevating labor rights and standards in the United States’ international engagements.
- United States and Japan Task Force to Promote Human Rights and International Labor Standards in Supply Chains: In January 2023, the United States and Japan launched a task force to work on a bilateral basis to protect and promote human rights and internationally recognized labor rights, including through the prohibition of the use of forced labor in supply chains through trade policy.
- Promoting Fundamental Reform at the World Trade Organization to Serve the Needs of Workers: In a major speech, Ambassador Tai underscored that the goal of reforming the WTO is to provide confidence that the system is fair and to revitalize the agency of Members to settle their disputes. Ambassador Tai highlighted that any reformed system should bring an end to judicial overreaching and restore policy space so that Members can regulate and find solutions to their pressing needs, such as defending their workers’ interests from non-market policies and tackling the climate crisis.
FIGHTING FOR OUR FARMERS AND AGRICULTURAL PRODUCERS:
A full list of all agriculture wins under Ambassador Tai’s leadership, including over 20 secured in 2023, can be found here.
- Improved Market Access in India: Throughout 2023, Ambassador Tai secured several important agreements with India to benefit of American agricultural and industrial producers, including a 70% reduction of the tariff on pecans, the removal of retaliatory tariffs on almonds, apples, chickpeas, lentils and walnuts, boric acid, and diagnostic reagents, and commitments for additional tariff reductions on frozen turkey, frozen duck, as well as fresh, frozen, dried, and processed blueberries and cranberries. The United States and India also agreed to resolve all seven outstanding World Trade Organization disputes this year.
- Advocating for Agriculture Producers in USMCA: Ambassador Tai and USTR continue to leverage the tools of the United States – Mexico – Canada Agreement to ensure the promises of the Agreement to America’s farmers and producers are fully realized. This year, the United States requested a panel under the USMCA to review Mexico’s ban on biotech corn, which threatens our agriculture industry and is not based on science. The United States also fought for domestic dairy producers unfairly disadvantaged in Canada in another USMCA panel.
- Re-Opened South Africa’s Poultry Market: Following extensive engagement by USTR, including interventions at the WTO Committee on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, South Africa announced it would lift restrictions on U.S. poultry and poultry product exports from 27 states that have been declared free from highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). South Africa’s restrictions on U.S. poultry had been in place well after the states had been declared HPAI-free.
- Expanded Japan’s Ethanol Market: Japan implemented a new biofuels policy that will allow the United States to capture up to 100 percent of Japan’s on-road ethanol market. Under the new policy, exports of American ethanol could increase by over 80 million gallons annually, representing an additional $150-200 million in exports each year.
- Secured Growing Access for U.S. Beef in Japan: On January 1, 2023, a new beef safeguard agreement under the United States-Japan Trade Agreement went into force, which will allow our beef exporters to more reliably meet Japan’s growing demand for high-quality beef. This agreement provides more predictability to domestic beef producers in the second-largest export market for American beef.
FORTIFYING SUPPLY CHAINS AND INCREASING ECONOMIC RESILIENCE:
- Trade Policy to Promote Greater Security: In a major speech, Ambassador Tai connected United States trade policy, national security, and economic security for working people, underscoring the need to reform trade to increase supply chain resiliency through diversification and investment in American manufacturing, as showcased by the shortfalls experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s unjustified invasion of Ukraine.
- Successful APEC Host Year: Ambassador Tai and USTR advanced the United States’ host year theme of “Building a Resilient and Sustainable Future for All” through several meetings throughout the year, including at the Detroit APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade meeting in May 2023 and the San Francisco Ministerial Meeting in November 2023. The November convening included a first-of-its-kind meeting between ministers and Indigenous leaders to discuss how to create economic and trade policies that benefit historically overlooked and underserved communities.
- Successful AGOA Forum: Ambassador Tai and South Africa’s Minister of Trade, Industry, and Competition Ebrahim Patel co-hosted the 2023 AGOA Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa in November. During the Forum, Ambassador Tai met with senior officials and representatives of several AGOA-eligible countries, civil society and labor stakeholders, and re-affirmed the importance of the partnership between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa in driving economic opportunity for Americans and Africans.
- First Agreement Under United States-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade: In June, representatives from the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in the United States signed the first agreement under the United States-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade. The agreement includes high-standard commitments and economically meaningful outcomes in a number of trade areas. The United States and Taiwan, under the auspices of AIT and TECRO, continued negotiations on additional chapters throughout 2023 and will continue discussions in 2024.
- Progress on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF): In just one year of negotiations, the United States made progress on the Trade Pillar with partners across the Indo-Pacific. The IPEF is an economic arrangement that is tackling 21st century challenges and opportunities – and bolstering cooperation throughout this critical region. USTR officials participated in six negotiating rounds throughout 2023, including a round in San Francisco, California in November. Ambassador Tai also convened ministerial meetings in Detroit, Michigan, and San Francisco, California.
- Progress on the United States-Kenya Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership: The United States and Kenya continued discussions throughout the year and increased engagement to make progress on the bilateral trade agreement. In July, Ambassador Tai traveled to Nairobi and met with President Ruto and other stakeholders, a testament to the United States’ commitment to this partnership.
- United States-Japan Critical Minerals Agreement: In March, the United States and Japan signed an historic critical minerals agreement that will strengthen and diversify critical minerals supply chains and promote the adoption of electric vehicle battery technologies.
- Progress on the WTO Joint Statement Initiative on E-Commerce: At the WTO, the United States advanced disciplines on digital trade that will bring meaningful benefits to workers, businesses, governments, and the public, particularly micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises and women-owned businesses. The United States welcomes the progress made to date on the WTO E-Commerce Joint Statement Initiative and looks forward to continuing that progress in 2024 with the 90 WTO Members participating in the initiative.
- WTO Agreement on Services Domestic Regulation: In 2023, the United States worked to establish within the WTO an agreement to enhance transparency, predictability, and effectiveness of procedures that businesses have to comply with to obtain authorization to supply their services. Opaque procedures disproportionately burden small businesses, and the agreement, if implemented by the 70 governments covering 92.5% of world services trade that are seeking to incorporate the disciplines, would help ensure that businesses of all sizes receive fair treatment when pursuing opportunities in foreign markets.
ADVANCING ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AND SUSTAINABILITY:
- WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies: This year, Ambassador Tai signed the United States’ instrument of acceptance of the WTO agreement on fisheries subsidies – the first ever multilateral trade agreement with environmental sustainability at its core. The United States was among the first countries to sign the agreement, which will protect our shared environment from harmful and unsustainable fisheries subsidies practices.
- Enforcement of United States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA): USTR has continued to enforce the unique Forest Annex present in the Agreement, ensuring that illegally harvested timber is not permitted to enter domestic supply chains.
- Progress on Global Arrangement on Sustainable Steel and Aluminum: Ambassador Tai led negotiations to advance a global arrangement to address carbon intensity and non-market excess capacity in the steel and aluminum industries.
- Support for a More Circular Economy through Trade Policy: Throughout 2023, USTR continued to promote trade-related circular approaches, leading a circular economy and remanufacturing-focused session at the WTO’s Trade and Environment Week, pursuing circular economy commitments in discussions with trading partners, and facilitating relevant work in APEC’s Committee on Trade and Investment under the United States-led Recyclable Materials Policy Program.
PUTTING THE “U.S.” BACK IN USTR:
- Ambassador Tai has set out to meet people where they are, particularly those who have been historically excluded from the policymaking conversation and the benefits of trade.
- In 2023, Ambassador Tai visited 18 states – approximately one domestic trip for every international trip, an unprecedented undertaking to involve more Americans across the country in trade policymaking. Ambassador Tai met with farmers, agricultural producers, workers, union leaders, indigenous leaders, and small business owners. She toured factory floors, ports, state fairs, farms, and more to hear from those who are directly impacted by trade.
- Ambassador Tai was appointed to the White House Competition Council in further recognition of the importance of ensuring that domestic policies and foreign economic policies are aligned. Trade policy must serve to support the fair, open, competitive marketplace that has long been a cornerstone of the American economy.
- As co-chair of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, Ambassador Tai has continued to advocate for these communities in her work and engage with diaspora communities throughout her travel. Major engagements included a key speech on her experience as the first Asian American or woman of color to serve as the United States Trade Representative, a meeting of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, as well as several AA and NHPI stakeholder roundtables throughout her domestic travels.