A stalled trade agenda and unhappiness with the leadership of Biden U.S. trade chief Katherine Tai has pushed more than a half-dozen senior trade officials out the door, Politico reports. Current and former administration officials tell Politico the exits include the White House’s point person on global economics and two trade deputies on Biden’s “worker-centered” trade policies.
Simmering discontent over USTR Katherine Tai’s management and pulling out of Indo-Pacific Economic Framework or IPEF talks in November are among the causes cited. Tai told the Senate Finance Committee last year, “Tariff liberalization and tariff reductions are not a part of this negotiation. Nevertheless, what we are doing is bringing together critical partners in the region to improve the interoperability and compatibility between our economies.”
House lawmakers also complained U.S. producers were losing ground to China and the EU making tariff-cutting deals. Ways and Means Republican Adrian Smith (R-NE) said, “I’m concerned that it seems that President Biden has not given you the mandate to address market access with any of our trading partners.”
Senate Finance Chair and Democrat Ron Wyden (D-OR) told Politico that the recent wave of exists “certainly raises questions” about the trade agenda—one Tai has defended citing domestic politics. Wyden said, “Our traditional trade models and traditional FTAs have led us to a place where we are facing a considerable backlash that we are listening to from our own people about concerns regarding the offshoring and outsourcing of American jobs and opportunities doing these types of arrangements.”
A Biden worker-centered trade agenda versus Trump protectionism and steep tariffs could be a driver for decisive Midwest manufacturing and farm votes in an election rematch this year.