Remarks by Ambassador Katherine Tai at the EXIM 2023 Annual Conference

WASHINGTON – United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai today delivered remarks at the EXIM 2023 Annual Conference, highlighting how USTR’s work is a key part of realizing the three pillars of Bidenomics and delivering benefits to workers, manufacturers, and exporters.  Ambassador Tai also underscored how trade policy can and should be used to promote fair competition and boost resilience, sustainability, and inclusive growth.


Ambassador Tai’s remarks as prepared for delivery are below:

Hello, everyone.  It is great to be here today.  I’d like to thank Chair Lewis for inviting me.  I have to say, my team was impressed that I get to share the stage with the Toronto Raptors.  No small task, but congratulations to Chair Lewis and her team for putting together an excellent conference.

As President Biden said recently in Philadelphia, “instead of exporting American jobs, we’re creating American jobs and exporting American products.” 

And this is what the Export-Import Bank is all about.  Public and private sectors teaming up.  Investing in industries of the future.  Investing in the people that will drive and shape that future.

EXIM levels the playing field for U.S. companies competing in overseas markets.  USTR also levels the playing field by fighting for fair trade and competition. 

EXIM steps in to provide financing tools when private sector lenders are unable or unwilling to do so, especially benefiting smaller businesses.  At USTR, we are all about championing our small businesses and equipping them to thrive.

EXIM empowers exporters to reach new and emerging markets.  Likewise, USTR is collaborating with trading partners in all corners of the globe to open doors for American businesses and workers, and to figure out how we can build our middle classes together.

Our work is an important part of realizing the President’s economic vision to build the economy from the middle out and the bottom up.  To harness our nation’s incredible potential to tackle today’s challenges, like rising inequality and the climate crisis.

American businesses and manufacturers—both small and large, and the workers that power them—are the foundation of that potential. 

Today, I want to share how trade fits in with the three pillars of Bidenomics—making smart investments in America, empowering workers, and promoting competition.

First, making smart investments in America.

From the global challenges we all face, it is clear that industrial policy and trade policy must complement each other.  As I meet with my counterparts from around the world, I have heard the need for trade rules that recognize domestic economic priorities, like investing in infrastructure, manufacturing, and clean technology.

So the goal of our trade initiatives is to support the historic investments this administration is making in our country and in our people.  We are focused on working with trading partners to make our supply chains more resilient so they can withstand future shocks. 

And we are incentivizing a race to the top to protect our environment.  This includes working with likeminded countries to speed up the clean transition and strengthen supply chains for critical minerals, including through the Inflation Reduction Act. 

Second, we are using trade to empower workers, because they are the backbone of our manufacturing sector and our economy.  When workers and their communities thrive, we all thrive.

Our efforts under the United States – Mexico – Canada Agreement is a prime example.

The USMCA allows us to bring cases against facilities that do not respect the rights of workers to freedom of association and collective bargaining. 

And through these cases, we are seeing real change for workers in Mexico.  New collective bargaining agreements.  Major salary increases.  Safer working conditions.

This empowers U.S. workers by reducing unfair incentives to ship jobs overseas.  We are committed to a trade policy that is crafted for workers and will continue to use every enforcement tool at our disposal to safeguard workers’ rights.

Finally, promoting fair competition to help our workers, industries, and economy thrive.

Take the steel industry, for instance.  The industry used to employ well over a hundred thousand people in communities across the country.  That is, until we started seeing non-market buildup of excess production capacity that resulted in unfair, low-priced steel flooding the global market.

This not only affected workers at shuttered steel mills, but also businesses up and down the value chain—many of them small businesses.

To have fair and sustainable competition in this sector, we need to address both non-market excess capacity as well as the carbon intensity, and we are working with the European Union to do just that. 

We are also focused on boosting resilience, sustainability, and inclusive economic growth through our major trade initiative in Asia, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, or IPEF.

This is a new and different kind of tool, focused on pursuing common-sense economic collaboration that benefits everyone.

One example is trade facilitation, under IPEF’s trade pillar.  Navigating customs procedures can be daunting, and the uncertainty can slow things down and cost more money. 

So we’re working on ways to make it easier to move goods across borders, by reducing paper-based processes and discussing how we can make it easier for stakeholders to understand customs rules and prepare for changes that might affect them. 

You are about to hear about the importance of growing Africa’s possibilities.  We have an opportunity to collaborate with the continent.  And through the ongoing Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations, we are partnering with Kenya to drive human-centric growth for our people on both sides of the Atlantic.

One area I want to highlight in our work with Kenya is on micro, small and women-owned businesses.  We believe they are key to sustained economic growth, so our governments are exchanging best practices and discussing ways to give them the tools to succeed.

Invest, empower, compete.  This is our administration’s vision for our economic future, and EXIM and all of you play a central part.  Your workers and employees, your innovation, and your tenacity drive us toward the tomorrow we want to build.

Thank you and I hope you enjoy the rest of the conference.