Retail Trade Policy Update: September 20-24

RILA's Vice President of International Trade Blake Harden shares a few key trade policy updates happening this week that may impact the retail industry, including related to forced labor in Xinjiang, firms on the trade blacklist, and more. Explore below.

Senate Confirms White for Deputy USTR Position

The Senate on Wednesday voted to confirm Senate Finance Committee staff member Jayme White to serve as deputy USTR. White, who formerly served as chief trade adviser for the Committee’s Democrats, was approved 80-18.

He is set to become USTR Katherine Tai’s first deputy after being nominated by Biden earlier this year. White’s portfolio will include the Western Hemisphere, Europe, the Middle East, labor and environment.

Ambassador Tai Meets with WTO Director-General

This week, Ambassador Tai met with the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Director-General Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

This was the first in-person meeting between Ambassador Tai and Director-General Okonjo-Iweala after several virtual conversations throughout this year. According to a readout rom the meeting, they discussed trade’s essential role in the global economy and the importance of multilateral cooperation between countries and trading partners. They both agreed that the WTO must play a critical role in harnessing trade as a force for good.

Ambassador Tai noted that a successful WTO Ministerial Conference needs to deliver a meaningful agreement in the fisheries subsidies negotiations and on WTO Members’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the importance of WTO reform.

Ahead of the Twelfth WTO Ministerial Conference in November, Ambassador Tai and Director-General Okonjo-Iweala pledged to continue frequent dialogue on these issues and maintaining a direct line of communication.

US-UK Trade Discussions

This week, Ambassador Tai and her new British counterpart, UK Trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan, agreed to continue U.S.-UK discussions aimed at addressing the market-distorting practices of China and other non-market economies according to a readout from USTR.

Tai "emphasized her commitment to deepening bilateral trade and investment ties" between the countries.

She discussed USTR's ongoing review of past U.S.-UK trade agreement talks, but the statement gave no indication of a path forward.

Also this week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was in Washington meeting with President Biden. When asked by a reporter whether Britain was at the “back of the queue” for a deal with Washington, Biden said: “We’re going to have to work that through.”

Biden warned Johnson not to put peace in Northern Ireland at risk, amid ongoing tension about its open borders with Ireland due to new customs checks post-Brexit.

Biden said he felt “strongly” about the Northern Ireland protocol — the new set of rules for managing the borders.

Following the meeting, Johnson announced that the U.S. will lift a ban on lamb imports from the UK and stated that the two “agreed to continue working” toward a free trade deal.

For more information about these updates and RILA's trade advocacy work, please contact Blake Harden.

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