Remarks by Ambassador Katherine Tai at the Meeting of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders

WASHINGTON – United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai today delivered remarks at a quarterly meeting of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders.  

In her remarks, Ambassador Tai highlighted the Biden-Harris Administration’s ongoing efforts to advance equity, justice, and opportunity for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities.  Ambassador Tai also emphasized the importance of the Commission’s work to pursue fairness, tackle anti-Asian violence, ensure inclusion and belonging, and build an economy for all Americans.

Ambassador Tai’s remarks as delivered are below:

Thank you, Krystal, for that kind introduction, and it’s wonderful to be here with all of you again.

I’m amazed that this is the fifth public meeting of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders.  Thinking back to the first meeting that we had in person here, I feel the buzz in the room, and rapport has really grown over the course of your work.

I want to thank you and congratulate you on everything you are working with us to accomplish.  It is my joy and honor to serve as co-chair of this Commission alongside HHS Xavier Becerra.

I am deeply grateful to each of you for your service and dedication.  I especially want to thank Krystal, Rebecca, Erika, our DFOs, and the entire WHIAANHPI team for making this meeting possible and making all of this work go. 

So much has happened since we last met in December.  Things to celebrate.  It is just – today is Tuesday – two days after the Oscars, which was a record-breaking, barrier-breaking Oscars for Asian America.  Something that I’m eager to talk to our commissioner Daniel Dae Kim about, during the break.

At the same time, we know that times are still extremely challenging for all of us, and for the AANHPI community.

In January, as many Asian Americans were celebrating the Lunar New Year, tragedy struck our community again with mass shootings in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay, California. 

The Administration immediately deployed our own Erika Moritsugu to be on the ground in Monterey Park after the shootings, with the Vice President following a day later. 

President Biden today is in Monterey Park to meet with the families and community affected by those shootings.

As Caroline noted, today is Pi Day – it’s March 14.  If you think back to where we were two years ago on March 16, that would be the two-year anniversary of the Atlanta spa shootings, another attack that rocked our community.

Despite these tragedies, we continue to see the resilience of our community, including heroes like Bran, from Monterey Park.

I got a chance to meet Bran when he was in town for the President’s State of the Union Address.  It was incredibly moving to hear him speak.  I speak every day, and we were joking that, for me, you know, an action shot is a picture of me talking.  

Bran was so incredibly touching.  I just wanted to share with you.  Bran came to Washington, was invited up to the Hill, gave some remarks, and he’s a young man who doesn’t do this every day.  And as he, just the sincerity of his presentation, recounting an extremely traumatic event.  

When Congresswomen Judy Chu asked him at the end what he took away from this experience, he shared with us, he said I just want all of you to know that what he learned was that there is incredible courage in all of us that we might not even know we have.  But that in a moment of crisis, when we’re called upon to have the confidence that you have the courage inside of you to make that difference.

I carry with me that incredibly sincere and honest reflection that Bran shared with us that day.  I think it’s also important for us to remember and recall because we know we are stronger when we come together.  Even through these tragedies, we will emerge as a sturdier, tighter community, more confident in our courage and our resilience and our ability to contribute.

Our administration, I want to assure you, will continue to partner with AA and NHPI communities everywhere, to fight for justice and equity, and build a society that is freer and fairer.

As Krystal mentioned, earlier this year, the Administration released its first-ever national strategy to advance equity, justice, and opportunity for AA and NHPI communities.

I also want to note that on the very first day of this month, which is Women’s History Month, President Biden nominated Julie Su to be the nation’s next Secretary of Labor – the fourth Asian American woman to serve in his Cabinet.

I want you to know that this Commission’s efforts are directly affecting the Administration’s work.  If by chance, for those of you who were working on the Commission, it is hard for you to tell because you are inside of the Commission.

A great example of this impact was the inaugural White House Initiative AA and NHPI Economic Summit in Philadelphia. 

This summit demonstrated how your recommendations are having a concrete and real impact on people’s lives, and it was also great to see some of you there.  

As President Biden said in his State of the Union address, we must all do our part to meet the challenges of our time.  

To craft intentional, inclusive policies that generate long-term and equitable economic prosperity.  To uplift communities that have been underserved and historically overlooked.  To build a better America by investing in ourselves, in our communities, and our small businesses.

As the U.S. Trade Representative, I want you to know that trade policy plays an important role in realizing this vision.

USTR was one of thirty-two federal agencies that created action plans to implement the Administration’s national AA and NHPI strategy.

Our plan at USTR includes items that your subcommittees are examining closely – for example, advancing data disaggregation to better understand the distributional effects of trade and trade policy on American workers. 

The findings confirmed that literature and data gaps are extremely stark – especially when it comes to AA and NHPI workers.  So, it is clear that we have more work to do and that this is really important work.

That’s one of the reasons why I’ve made it a priority to put the “U.S.” back into USTR.  

Whenever I travel, I make it a priority to meet with small businesses and AA and NHPI leaders across the country, and I’ll be doing exactly that later this week. 

Their stories emphasize the human impacts of my work as U.S. Trade Representative.  I am inspired by their stories always, and their stories of resilience and ingenuity.

I also want to share with you that when I travel internationally, it is very clear to me how our diaspora communities, and in particular our AANHPI communities, are incredible resources and assets of the United States as a globally connected nation.

When I am in the Asia-Pacific, when I travel in the Americas, it is inspiring to me the people-to-people connectivity that we have through our communities with the rest of the world.  And these communities are important bridges and bridge builders for the work we have to do internationally as part of our economic and foreign policy.

As I close, I want to say again that this Commission is integral to this Administration’s efforts to advance equity, tackle anti-Asian violence, ensure inclusion and belonging, and build an economy for all Americans.

Your work is so critical in our fight to form a more perfect Union – one not based on violence and division, but on unity, peace, and prosperity for all our communities.  

As you enter your second year as commissioners, I hope you can see the many ways that your service is affecting people’s lives.  I’m grateful to each and every one of you for serving as partners in this endeavor.

Today’s meeting is another opportunity to build on our progress.  I look forward to reading the recommendations that you approve today.

Thank you, thank you.  And now I’ll turn it over to Erika Moritsugu, our phenomenal leader at the White House, who I see on screen and I am eager to hear from.