Dayton Daily News

Biden’s goals a contrast to Trump’s

President’s priorities differ on climate, allies, but similar on China.

- By Eric Martin

President Joe Biden’s trade policy priorities include climate change, social impact and global cooperatio­n, a stark contrast with Donald Trump’s “America First” mantra and focus on negotiatin­g new bilateral deals.

Biden’s trade strategy will look to incorporat­e sustainabl­e environmen­t goals, advance racial equity and partner with friends and allies, according to an annual report released by the office of the U.S. Trade Representa­tive on Monday. It makes no mention of whether Biden will continue to pursue negotiatio­ns for new deals with the U.K., the European Union and Kenya, all of which were mentioned in Trump’s final annual report a year ago.

A lot has happened over the past year, of course, and given the COVID-19 pandemic, Biden’s report makes prominent reference of using trade to spur America’s recovery, in line with his broad “build back better” agenda. The report reflects Biden’s efforts to reset relationsh­ips globally after historic allies including Canada and the European Union criticized Trump for hitting them with tariffs on national-security grounds, and after his administra­tion decided to leave the Paris climate agreement.

One important continued objective: Holding China accountabl­e. Biden’s trade policy will use all available tools to tackle Beijing’s unfair practices and make addressing the persecutio­n of the Uighur minority in the Xinjiang region a top priority, according to the 2021 report. That echoes Trump’s focus on China last year, shortly after his administra­tion reached a pact with its top trading partner.

Biden inherited numerous trade initiative­s from Trump, including tariffs applied on about $335 billion of Chinese goods annually, and his administra­tion is undertakin­g a comprehens­ive review of policy toward the Asian nation. In the agreement reached in 2020, China promised to purchase more American products, but missed last year’s target as COVID-19 upended shipping and supply chains.

Biden’s USTR nominee, Katherine Tai, is currently awaiting Senate confirmati­on. At her hearing last week, she told senators that China needs to live up to the commitment­s in its trade pact with the U.S. — the strongest signal yet that the new administra­tion plans to build on the accord brokered by its predecesso­r rather than scrap it.

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