Senate confirms new US Trade Representative

The Senate has unanimously confirmed Katherine Tai as the new US Trade Representative (USTR), making her the first Asian-American and the first woman of colour to hold the position.

The evenly-split Senate confirmed Tai’s nomination by a vote of 98-0 on Wednesday, reflecting rare bipartisan support, reports Xinhua news agency.

Tai, 47, had served as the chief lawyer on trade for the US House Ways and Means Committee.

She led the Congressional negotiations for the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement signed last year, and also had several years of experience at the Office of the USTR.

Tai is expected to review former President Donald Trump’s trade policies, including tariffs, and will likely face challenges as President Joe Biden’s top trade negotiator amid trade disputes with the country’s trading partners, including the European Union and China.

When announcing the nomination in December 2020, Biden described Tai as “a tested trade expert”, and a “dedicated public servant who knows government and who has spent her career levelling the playing field for American workers and families”.

Biden’s economic team also includes former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen, who was sworn in as first female Treasury Secretary in January.

Earlier this month, Gina Raimondo, then Rhode Island Governor, was confirmed by the Senate as the new Commerce Secretary, and Princeton University economist Cecilia Rouse was confirmed as head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.