Remarks by Ambassador Katherine Tai at Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity Trade Ministers Meeting

WASHINGTON – United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai today participated in the first meeting of ministers responsible for trade under the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity (“Americas Partnership”). In her opening remarks, Ambassador Tai underscored the importance of the Americas Partnership Trade Track in building a durable and inclusive regional economy, including by bolstering supply chain resilience, empowering workers, and tackling the climate crisis.
Ambassador Tai’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:
Hello, everyone. It is great to see all of you. Welcome to the first trade ministers meeting of the Americas Partnership.
I have had the pleasure to meet many of you in different fora – in bilateral engagements, APEC, or the WTO – but seeing you all together shows me the Americas Partnership is real. Our work has truly begun.
Together, we have an opportunity to build a regional trade institution from the ground up. To use trade as a force for good. To build our middle classes together, and to bring more voices to the table.
That is inspiring.
As our Leaders expressed in the East Room Declaration in November, “we recognize the need to accelerate inclusive and sustainable trade and investment in the region, address the climate crisis, and expand social and economic opportunities that leave no one behind.”
This is reflection of the need to do trade differently in today’s global economy.
Growing economic inequality—and a sense of economic insecurity—are urgent issues we are all grappling with. During the height of the pandemic, we also experienced first-hand how quickly supply chain disruptions can impact our daily lives.
Trade is an integral part of addressing these problems, and that is why we are here today.
We have an opportunity to do trade in a smarter, more innovative way. This is not easy, but it is a challenge that I am—and I believe all of you are—inspired to take up through the Trade Track.
I expect that much of our work in will focus on supply chain resilience. For the Biden-Harris Administration, this is much more than just moving goods around.
It is about crafting a new approach to trade policy so that we can adapt and rebound with agility, advance workers’ rights and environmental protections, and drive more inclusive economic prosperity.
This is how we can address today’s most pressing challenges, and build durable growth by lifting up more diverse voices in our societies, especially those of underserved communities.
This is why USTR recently published – and shared with all of you – a public notice seeking broad input on supply chain resilience.
As cited in that announcement, a cornerstone of our approach is collaborating with trading partners to incentivize a race to the top through stronger coordination and alignment on labor and environmental protections within trusted networks.
This is how we can advance resilience and create lasting change together.
It will be important from my perspective for us to find a way to discuss these issues in the Trade Track, which is why we have proposed the inclusion of specific committees on Trade and Labor and Trade and Environment.
These committees are not intended to put any one of us on the spot and are not meant to replace important bilateral dialogues. Rather, our intention is to discuss how we could work together on issues of common concern that affect our hemisphere.
I am confident that working with you in the Partnership will provide immediate opportunities to explore creative ideas among governments – and with a broad range of stakeholders across the region.
I would like to emphasize the importance of an inclusive approach, both in consultation practices and in policy, and how the United States has integrated the values of equity and equality into our work.
For example, during our host year for APEC last year, we centered the role of trade in advancing economic inclusion for women and historically underserved groups. This resulted in the Leader-level San Francisco Principles on Integrating Inclusivity and Sustainability into Trade and Investment Policy.
We also sought comments from the public on how we can design trade and investment policy to expand the benefits of trade to include historically underrepresented, underserved, and overburdened communities.
The Partnership is another opportunity for such efforts. As President Biden says, so that more people have a fair shot.
I know our Senior Officials have already set up a committee to examine issues of inclusive trade and small and medium-sized enterprises, and I look forward to seeing that work progress.
In fact, I look forward to hearing about all our priorities. So, let me ask you all to introduce yourselves and share some opening remarks.