The Biden administration’s trade agenda will make pandemic recovery a top priority and focus on the American worker, according to the 2021 President’s Trade Agenda and 2020 Annual Report, an annual document submitted by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to Congress. The administration will push for labour standards in its trade agreements, negotiate environmental standards and address China’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices, the document said.
Impact on workers
“The Biden Administration will review past trade policies for their impacts on, and unintended consequences for, workers,” it said.
“Workers will have a seat at the table as the Biden Administration develops new trade policies that promote equitable economic growth by including strong, enforceable labor standards in trade agreements that protect workers’ rights and increase economic security. The Administration will engage allies to secure commitments to fight forced labor and exploitative labor conditions, and increase transparency and accountability in global supply chains,” the report said.
The Biden administration’s trade priorities will also include negotiating and implementing “strong environmental standards”. It will also seek to promote equitable economic growth through trade.
The impact of trade policy on racial minorities within the U.S. will also be a priority. The new administration is also likely to follow an aggressive agricultural trade policy.
“The trade agenda will seek to expand global market opportunities for American farmers, ranchers, food manufacturers, and fishers and will defend our producers by enforcing global agricultural trade rules,” the report said.
Take on China
China’s “coercive and unfair trade practices harm American workers, threaten our technological edge, weaken our supply chain resiliency, and undermine our national interests”, the report said.
“The ongoing comprehensive review of U.S. trade policy towards China is integral to the development of the Administration’s overall China strategy,” it says, committing to using all tools available to counter practices it calls unfair and harmful to the U.S.
Addressing human rights abuses against the Uighurs and others will be a top priority for the administration, as per the report. It will also collaborate with allies to address the market distortions created by industrial overcapacity issue.
“Key sectors range from steel and aluminum to fiber optics, solar, and other sectors where the Chinese Government has been a key contributor,” the report said.
Reforms at WTO
The U.S. will work with allies to “ implement necessary reforms to the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) substantive rules and procedures to address the challenges facing the global trading system, including growing inequality, digital transformation, and impediments to small business trade”, the report said.
“The Administration will work with allies and like-minded trading partners to establish high-standard global rules to govern the digital economy, in line with our shared democratic values. Where gaps exist in international trade rules, the United States will work to address them, including through enhanced cooperation with our partners and allies,” it added.