WASHINGTON – Deputy United States Trade Representative Sarah Bianchi today delivered remarks at the Center on Inclusive Trade and Development’s inaugural Rethinking World Trade 2023 conference at Georgetown University Law Center. In her remarks, Ambassador Bianchi highlighted how the Biden-Harris Administration is using trade policy to promote inclusive prosperity in a rapidly changing world. Ambassador Bianchi also underscored the Administration’s efforts to deepen economic relationships with allies and partners to build a better future together.
Ambassador Bianchi’s remarks as prepared for delivery are below:
Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you, Katrin, for your kind introduction, and thank you to Professor Hillman and the Center on Inclusive Trade and Development for inviting me to speak today at your inaugural conference on Rethinking World Trade.
Any conversation about trade—particularly inclusive trade—should be viewed in the context of the rapidly changing world we live in and the economy that shapes it.
My daughter, Eva, is not yet old enough for high school, yet in her fourteen short years, our world has changed significantly. When Eva was born, there was no iPhone, no Uber or AirBnB, we couldn’t order diapers on Amazon and expect them to arrive just hours later, and we certainly didn’t have cashierless grocery stores that use geofencing technology to manage product inventory.
And of course, in the decades before Eva’s arrival, the global economic upheaval has been even more profound.
Many of the changes have been positive. Globalization and greater economic integration have lifted millions of people out of poverty and opened new opportunities, but they have also had real consequences for many workers and communities that have understandably stoked fears of unrest that we cannot ignore.
It is unsurprising that so many Americans worry about the impact these economic changes have had—and will continue to have on our lives.
Trade doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It exists in the context of real communities and workers. It is through that lens that the Administration has worked to forge a trade agenda—one that recognizes the critical role the United States plays in the world economy, and the importance of the relationships and work with our allies, but also trade’s real impact on our workers here at home.
So today, I want to talk about three pillars that define how the Biden Administration aims to make sure that our global economy and our trading system are inclusive and benefit all of our workers.
1. First: Investing in our competitiveness here in the United States;
2. Second: Deepening economic engagement with our partners and allies;
3. Finally: Holding our trading partners accountable.
First, on investing in the United States—President Biden passed historic legislation—including the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act to make our domestic economy more competitive.
We are rebuilding our infrastructure—our roads, ports, bridges, and airports—that will improve the flow of goods and services within and across our borders.
The Inflation Reduction Act, or IRA, the largest investment in climate and energy in American history, will help build a clean energy economy that lowers costs, strengthens our energy security, and meets our climate goals.
As the Administration works to implement these laws, there are complex trade policy decisions that have to be sorted through.
But our goal is simple: to build a strong clean energy economy as fast as we can.
For example, we recently concluded an agreement with Japan on critical minerals and are beginning conversations with the European Union to help us to lessen single-source dependence, fortify, and diversify the necessary supply chains for electric vehicles and maximize the benefits of the IRA.
A second pillar is deepening economic engagement with our partners and allies to address new and emerging challenges.
We have launched a number of initiatives to meet our goals.
First and foremost, we have launched the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, also known as IPEF.
Collectively, the fourteen IPEF countries make up 40% of global GDP. If we can establish a set of norms and rules of the road, we can bind our economies together in meaningful ways that make our economies more resilient and help workers.
IPEF will reduce some of the costly non-tariff barriers to trade, set common-sense standards for the digital economy, strengthen supply chains with like-minded partners, craft responsible rules of the road on labor and the environment, and achieve other priorities that will help redefine the world of traditional trade.
I had the honor of working for President Biden as his top economic advisor when he was Vice President, and anytime a policy expert briefing him would slip into too much technical jargon or policy legalese, he would often remind them to explain it in real terms—about what it means for communities.
But, he wasn’t just urging us to talk that way, but to think that way—what is the real-world impact—on real workers and real communities.
So, what are real-world examples of what IPEF can mean for all of us?
Today, too often, burdensome, paper-based customs procedures across the region slow down our exports and impose significant compliance costs. In some countries, products languish endlessly in the hot sun during an undefined inspection period, before they are sent back to the country of export with no explanation.
Establishing standardized practical standards would meaningfully lower the cost of doing business, and open up opportunities not just for those big businesses that can afford losing large chunks of product without seeing a large hit to their bottom line, but our small businesses and farmers.
Another example is that in some countries there are regulatory practices that enable major changes to happen with no chance for comment or input. Overnight, the rules you had relied on could be upended. This uncertainty makes it hard companies to do business while ensuring compliance.
IPEF aims to reduce these and many other frictions and uncertainties by setting rules of the road that make it easier for international trade to thrive and does it in a way that bolsters workers, farmers, and the environment.
So far, we have had two productive negotiating rounds and hope to be able to achieve tangible progress later this year.
We are also working to deepen ties with Taiwan and in Kenya. Last June, we started the U.S. – Taiwan 21st Century Trade Initiative, and we hope to conclude an early harvest soon.
We have launched the Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership—with Kenya. Our team will be in Nairobi next week for the first negotiating round. We hope that ultimately, it can serve as a model for further engagement with other countries throughout Africa.
We also signed an MOU with the African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat, to facilitate greater cooperation on trade and investment between the United States and the continent.
A third and final pillar focuses on holding our trading partners accountable for existing trade commitments.
In countries like India, we have helped secure market access for key agricultural products, and in Japan, we’ve worked to enforce provisions to ensure access for U.S. auto manufacturers.
USMCA included the Rapid Response Mechanism, a new enforcement tool, that allows us to bring cases against facilities that do not respect the rights of workers, ranging from freedom of association to collective bargaining.
Using this mechanism, we’ve favorably resolved seven cases. This not only leads to real change and success for workers and independent unions in Mexico—like wage increases and safer working conditions—it also helps American workers by reducing the incentive to ship jobs overseas by setting a level playing field.
In addition, we are pressing Canada to ensure U.S. dairy farmers are treated fairly, and urging Mexico to address our concerns with the energy sector and with agricultural biotechnology.
And of course, we are focused on the PRC’s unfair policies and practices that have harmed American workers and businesses for too long.
We need a new playbook on the PRC that serves our economic interests and defends our values. And we will continue to press the PRC on its state-centered and non-market trade practices, and to live up to its commitments through the Phase One agreement.
A comprehensive four-year review process of the Section 301 tariffs on imports is taking a deliberate and strategic look at how we can serve our interests in light of the PRC’s continued unfair policies and practices.
In his State of the Union Address this year, President Biden stated that “[our] economic plan is about investing in places and people that have been forgotten. Amid the economic upheaval of the past four decades, too many people have been left behind or treated like they’re invisible.”
By investing in our competitiveness, deepening ties with likeminded partners and allies, and enforcing trade rules, our goal is to build a durable and inclusive trade policy.
Trade policy that brings in voices from often marginalized and forgotten communities, that strengthens the dignity of work, and creates a more equitable and fair economy.
We look forward to continuing to work with Georgetown and many others to realize this vision.
Thank you for your time today.