Senate Focuses On Biden Trade Policies

Market to Market | Clip
Apr 19, 2024 | 4 min

Senate focuses on Biden trade policies as U.S. Trade Representative is called testify in the Senate Finance Committee. 


This week, the Senate Finance Committee met with U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai, to discuss the foreign trade initiatives of the Biden Administration.

The current agricultural trade deficit was a frequent topic.

Sen Steve Daines, MT, R - “In the last fiscal year, ag exports declined by more than $17 billion and are forecast to continue to drop to a record low in the coming year.”

Amb. Katherine Tai, U.S. Trade Representative: “But we have run deficits before in the past, in the recent past. It happens from time to time. Part of The Factor is a strong U.S. dollar, but also really, really strong consumer demand here in the United States. Even with the downturn last year, 2021, 2022 and 2023 were a record setting year for U.S. ag exports at 173, 197, and then $179 billion. And I think that the drop, even for 2023 reflects growth from 2021 numbers.”

Sen. James Lankford, OK, R- “Are there any free trade agreements that are currently being negotiated?”

Amb. Katherine Tai, U.S. Trade Representative: “Since short answer to be responsive to you is no, we're not doing the big comprehensive agreements that are really great for AG and terrible for our industries, but we are nevertheless securing wins $21 billion in the last three years.”

Sen. James Lankford, OK, R- “The challenge of that is when it's non FTA, there's no certainty on it and that executive agreements come and go with the administrations and FTA has some semblance of certainty. Are there other new markets on the ag side that are pending?”

Amb. Katherine Tai, U.S. Trade Representative: “Yes. So there is the work that we've done with India across 12 tariff areas where we've opened up opportunities for tree nuts, cranberries. This is a little bit of test for me. I think it was blueberries, turkey, duck. We'd also worked on pork earlier with Japan. We've opened up with the beef safeguard. We've got ethanol, more ethanol going to Japan now.”

Sen. John Thune,South Dakota, R - “I'm on a bill that would create a free trade agreement with United Kingdom. They're one of our longest and closest allies. And there isn't a single free trade agreement that this administration has entered into.”

Amb. Katherine Tai, U.S. Trade Representative: “Market access can come more quickly, more effectively, more in more agile ways. If we are looking for those opportunities to score what we like to call singles and doubles to rack up the score that way, as opposed to tying up opportunities over the course of many, many years in FTA negotiations that sometimes don't ever come into being on that.”

Sen. John Thune,South Dakota, R - “How about the easier FTAs? How about the UK?”

Amb. Katherine Tai, U.S. Trade Representative: “I think there are no easy FTA is. I don't know if you followed, but the UK and Canada have been negotiating the FTA that they start negotiating because the UK won't talk. AG ad market access. And in fact in the in the in the last years of the Trump administration in those negotiations, the UK had refused to put ag market access on the table. Ad market access is also something that has traditionally really frustrated our efforts at large FTA like exercises with the European Union.”

Elizabeth Warren, MA, D - “What has been China's track record on meeting its WTO commitments that it made at that time and moving toward a liberal democracy?” 

Amb. Katherine Tai, U.S. Trade Representative: “Senator Warren. This is one of the greatest disappointments, I think, in trade policy over the course the last 25 years. I've had a lot of conversations with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle around China's accession to the WTO and their descriptions of how disappointed they are in terms of their expectations is very deep.”

For Market to Market, I’m Peter Tubbs