#2021WCA: U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai

“Our trade policy must take a fundamentally different approach,” said the U.S. trade representative, saying her office needs to focus on giving workers a seat at the table.


  • Katherine Tai, U.S. Trade Representative
  • Eric Farnsworth, Vice President, Council of the Americas (moderator)
  • Elizabeth Reicherts, Interim Senior Vice President, Global Public Policy, General Motors (introduction)

“Fifty-one years is a testament to David Rockefeller’s vision for bringing the public and private sectors in Latin America together around our shared goals of social and economic progress,” said Ambassador Katherine Tai, the U.S. trade representative, at the 2021 Washington Conference on the Americas.

In her remarks, she outlined how she and President Biden believed Washington should take a “fundamentally different approach” to trade policy. “For far too long, we’ve overlooked the effect of our trade policies on individual workers, who are human beings, living in a community, trying to survive and to thrive,” she said. “The U.S. Trade Rep’s worker-centered trade policy will foster broad-based, equitable growth, increase innovation, and give workers a seat at the table.”

Not all values are shared globally, she noted. “We commit to engaging thoughtfully and responsibly with our hemispheric partners as other nations with different views seek to promote a competing vision with fundamentally different values,” said Tai. “Doing this work will not be easy. We will have to walk, chew gum, and play chess at the same time.”

Farnsworth asked how the USMCA implementation is going. “With every trade agreement, it’s not happily ever after,” replied Tai. “You know where all the tensions were when you were negotiating. You know that underneath the ‘yes’ are tension and political realities across the border.” That said, she noted that there was opportunity for improvement “to recognize that here in the United States we have a level of commitment to the success of this agreement and these partnerships that we haven’t had in decades. We gotta keep at it.” She added that she was looking forward to engaging with her Mexican and Canadian counterparts within the year at the first USMCA trade commission meeting.