December 9, 2021
Ambassador Katherine Tai
United States Trade Representative
Former Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
As nations around the world face new challenges posed by digitization, supply chain shortages, and the pandemic, leaders increasingly rely on global partnerships to deliver economic security and prosperity to their citizens.
At the 2021 Transatlantic Business Works Summit, Katherine Tai, Ambassador for the Office of the United States Trade Representative, offered key insights on how improved transatlantic cooperation can advance the global economy.
An Improved Partnership Between the U.S. and EU Will Benefit the Global Economy
The United States reached several landmark agreements with global trade partners in 2021, suspending tariffs in several major industries. Tai explained how improving the partnership between the United States and the European Union became an economic priority.
“What we are doing consistently in this relationship with the EU is taking ourselves from a posture of locking horns and turning our focus around so that we can join forces, manage our differences and then take on the bigger challenges,” Tai said.
“With our closest allies, the expectation is never that we are going to be the same,” she added. “The reason why we're allies is that we have very similar interests, and that always is going to require us to manage the tensions between us in order for us to keep our eyes on the big picture.”
Setting New Standards for the Digital Era Demands a Holistic Approach
When asked how emerging technologies will challenge global trade partners to agree on new standards, Tai underscored the need for a cooperative strategy.
“We have taken it upon ourselves ... to build out our base of advisors and our base of stakeholders to make sure that what we are putting together is something that is smart, wise, sustainable and durable,” Tai said. “The digital transformation is happening to all of us. We have to find ways to...defend our economic interests, but always put that in the larger context of greater threats and greater risks that are outside.”
Global Trade Requires Transatlantic Cooperation with the U.K.
Tai explained how challenges to transatlantic cooperation between the United States, United Kingdom and European Union have impacted global trade partnerships.
“Obviously the dynamics around Brexit are really specific to the EU and the U.K.,” Tai observed. “But I would also say that in our conversations with the U.K., we find ... a lot of shared values, shared systems [and] a shared language.”
Tai noted that despite political differences between the United Kingdom and European Union, the U.S. approach remains the same.
“We are allies, and we need to figure out how to be allies,” she said.
Government Liberalization Policies Directly Impact the Global Supply Chain
In light of recent challenges to the global supply chain, Tai recommends leaders critically evaluate government policies focused on liberalizing trade.
“I think that we have pursued a really unfettered liberalization policy for the past many years and decades, and it is part of what has brought us to this current reality of very fragile supply chains,” Tai said.
“We all have to figure out how to do this better,” she advised.