US trade nominee says Mexico-Canada pact is priority

US trade representative nominee Katherine Tai has said implementing the new free trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico will be “a priority,” while also vowing to rebuild international ties.

Tai, who expected to be confirmed for the influential post, will appear before a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday.

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“I will make it a priority to implement and enforce the renewed terms of our trade relationship with Canada and Mexico,” she said in written testimony released Wednesday ahead of the hearing.

“The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is a uniquely bipartisan accomplishment,” she said.

“It represents an important step in reforming our approach to trade. We must all continue to prioritize its implementation and success.”

Tai played a key role in shaping USMCA under Donald Trump to replace NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), advising on labor law during discussions.

In line with President Joe Biden’s approach, she stressed the need to improve multilateral relationships, saying she would “prioritize rebuilding our international alliances and partnerships, and re-engaging with international institutions.”

She named the three global challenges of “climate change, the Covid pandemic, and a global economic downturn.”

Tai, a long-time China expert, also said the US “duty of leadership extends, of course, to addressing the challenges posed by China.” “China is simultaneously a rival, a trade partner, and an outsized player whose cooperation we’ll also need to address certain global challenges,” she added in the testimony that she will deliver at Thursday’s hearing.

Born in 1974 of Chinese descent, and a graduate of Yale and Harvard universities, Tai — who will succeed Robert Lighthizer — has bipartisan support, and confirmation of her appointment is set to be a formality.

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