U.S. Senate Finance Committee conducts hearing on nomination of Katherine Tai to be U.S. Trade Representative.
FILE PHOTO: Katherine C. Tai addresses the Senate Finance committee hearings to examine her nomination to be United States Trade Representative, with the rank of Ambassador, in Washington, DC February 25, 2021. Bill O’Leary/Pool via REUTERS

March 22, 2021

By David Lawder and Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai hit the ground running on Monday after being sworn in as President Joe Biden’s top trade negotiator last week, making initial calls to her counterparts in Canada and Britain.

Tai is also due to speak with her counterpart from the European Union, which is hoping for a reset in ties with the United States after four years of tariffs and tensions under the Trump administration.

Tai agreed with Canada’s trade minister, Mary Ng, to pursue a ministerial-level meeting of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement’s governing body, including Mexico’s trade minister, the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office (USTR) said in a statement.

Both officials committed to future engagement on shared priorities, including recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, climate and environmental issues, forced labor and reform at the World Trade Organization, USTR said in a statement.

The two officials also discussed the importance of fully implementing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada pact and building a partnership that advances racial equity and supports underserved communities, USTR said.

China was a key topic in Tai’s call with British trade minister Liz Truss, USTR and Truss’s office said,

USTR said the two officials agreed to “work constructively to address unfair trade practices of non-market economies, such as China,” including looking at issues such as use of forced labor.

The two officials “resolved that the UK and US will collaborate to address our shared concerns, including on serious issues such as forced labor, at the G7 and WTO,” according to the UK statement.

USTR said they also agreed to work together on other key issues, including ending the COVID-19 pandemic, addressing a longstanding dispute over aircraft subsidies, reforming the World Trade Organization and climate change, it said.

Tai discussed her ongoing review of U.S.-U.K. talks about a free trade agreement conducted under the former Trump administration. The two officials agreed to continue discussions at the Group of Seven (G7) Trade Ministerial meeting in March. Britain is leading the G7 this year.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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