Tai: US will negotiate with China on phase one including agriculture

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said today, Oct. 4, the United States will negotiate with China over its compliance with the phase one trade agreement including the fact that it has not lived up to its commitments to buy U.S. agricultural products.

In a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Tai said, “I will lay out the starting point of our administration’s strategic vision for realigning our trade policies towards China to defend the interests of America’s workers, businesses, farmers and producers, and strengthen our middle class.”

“First, we will discuss with China its performance under the phase one agreement. China made commitments that benefit certain American industries, including agriculture, that we must enforce.”

Tai also said she intends “to deliver on President Biden’s vision for a worker-centered trade policy in the U.S.-China trade dynamic.”

“We need to show that trade policy can be a force for good in the lives of everyday people.”

She did not say that the United States intends to pursue a phase two trade agreement with China.

Tai added later in the speech, “While we have seen more exports to China in recent years, market share is shrinking and agriculture remains an unpredictable sector for U.S. farmers and ranchers who have come to rely heavily on this market. China’s regulatory authorities continue to deploy measures that limit or threaten the market access for our producers — and their bottom line.”

Asked at a news conference today about Tai’s comment that China has been “an unpredictable sector” for U.S. exports, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that “American agriculture has benefited from the purchases made by China” but that the relationship with China is so complex it is essential to diversify U.S. export markets.


Vilsack also said that China is $5 billion short in its commitment to buy U.S. products and, while it has fulfilled 50 of the commitments it made to change policies, it has not resolved seven items including its positions on biotechnology.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., said, Tai “laid out a clear, comprehensive strategy for the U.S.-China trade relationship in a manner that supports U.S. workers while growing and strengthening the U.S. economy.”

“China, over the years, has increasingly employed non-market and anti-competitive practices to the detriment of the global trading system,” Neal said. “It is critical that we use all of our tools, and in some cases create new tools, to hold China accountable for its actions. In partnership with our allies around the world, we must make clear our commitment to democratic values and fair competition while also trying to pursue constructive engagement with Beijing. American products, workers, industry, and famers will see the best results if our actions are thoughtful and deliberate, not reflexive and indiscriminate.”

Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, the ranking member on the House Ways and Means Committee, said, “Ambassador Tai is a talented U.S. trade representative who understands the importance of developing an aggressive, ambitious strategy to level the playing field with China.”

“Due to President Biden’s de facto moratorium on new trade agreements which regrettably leaves America on the sidelines while our foreign competitors divvy up the world’s customers for their own, it’s more important than ever that USTR go beyond merely enforcing the phase one agreement with China,” Brady said.


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