U.S. Trade Representative Tai on worker-centered policies

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In the year since U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai was sworn in, the global economy has been through a lot, including: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, inflation, COVID-19 lockdowns in China. At the same time, plenty of trade issues loom on the horizon — not least of which are U.S. tariffs on over $300 billion of Chinese imports, set to expire this year.

“Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal spoke with Tai about the future of U.S. trade policy at the Milken Institute Global Conference on Monday. In the far-ranging interview, Tai touched on tariffs, Indo-Pacific trade policy to what the future of globalization will look like.

“We have globalization 1.0, [which] is built on catering to a human element that we have only conceptualized as the consumer, right? So a lot of the arguments around the benefits of trade are you’re going to have low prices and lots of variety at the marketplace. And yeah, no, I mean there’s a … luxury to that and something that we’ve enjoyed for a long time,” Tai said.

But with globalization 2.0 comes a new way of thinking about how the American people are impacted by U.S. trade policy, Tai said.

“People are not just consumers. They are also workers. They’re also earning money, and they’re also having to compete in a global marketplace for talent, where globalization 1.0 has really eroded opportunities and wages for your average American. So the point that I have to make is, I get this. From now going forward as we devise our trade policies, we’re going to be thinking about the human component of our economies centrally — it’s the worker-center trade policies — and we’re going to be thinking about how we justify our policies to benefit our people. And if the policies we’re thinking about don’t benefit our people, then those cannot be the policies that we pursue,” Tai explained.

Watch full the interview from the Milken Institute below.

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U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai: Globalization 1.0 was “fragile.” Will 2.0 be more resilient?

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