Dear Industry Member:

The ACMA has been paying close attention to the announced nominations for cabinet level officials, particularly those that concern future trade policy. Below, we provide some backgrounders on the new nominees. Once the new Biden Administration takes effect and work begins, we’ll provide our insight as to how they could impact your business.


New Leadership at USTR: Katherine Tai
First, President-elect Joe Biden has nominated House Ways and Means Committee trade lawyer Katherine Tai (at right) as U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). If confirmed, Tai would be the first woman of color and first Asian American to hold the role. Remember, the U.S. Trade Representative is a Cabinet-level position within the Executive Office of the President.

Tai’s career at USTR first began in 2007 as an associate general counsel. In 2014, she was named chief counsel for China trade enforcement, overseeing disputes between Washington and Beijing at the World Trade Organization. She left that role in 2014 to join House Ways and Means and in 2017 was named chief trade lawyer for Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) Before her USTR career, Tai worked at Baker & McKenzie and Miller & Chevalier as an attorney. She also clerked for U.S. District Courts in Washington, D.C., and Maryland.

Incoming Secretary of Commerce: Governor Gina Raimondo
Second, President-elect Biden has nominated Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo (at left) to serve as secretary of Commerce. Raimondo was in the running to serve as Biden’s running mate, head of the Treasury Department, or the head of the Department of Health and Human Services. Ultimately, she was chosen for Commerce based on her experience with China policy.

Her father lost his 28-year factory job in Providence when watchmaker Bulova closed U.S. operations and moved to China. She promised as Commerce secretary that she would “come together with working families and business” to help “empower entrepreneurs” and “spur good paying jobs.”

Raimondo is a former venture capitalist who worked at a fund backed by Bain Capital. She also started her own venture firm in Rhode Island where she worked before being elected general treasurer of Rhode Island in 2011. She was elected governor of Rhode Island in 2014 and served as head of the Democratic Governors Association in 2019.

Biden’s Future on Trade
Many industries and foreign governments are already pressuring President-elect Biden for tariff relief. But the president-elect has said new trade talks will have to wait until he and his team determine the best path forward on domestic stimulus.

More importantly, his team needs time to review Trump’s trade policies writ large before lifting any duties, particularly those under Section 301. And that could take time. Sources close to the transition process have indicated that USTR has actively prevented career staff from meeting with the Biden trade team. This could materially affect how quickly the new administration addresses existing tariff policy or any new policy implementation.

Key Dates Ahead

  • Jan. 20: Biden sworn in as the 46th president of the United States.
  • Jan. 25-29: World leaders meet virtually for event hosted by the World Economic Forum, traditionally held in Davos, Switzerland.
  • February: Hearings and confirmation votes on Biden’s cabinet nominees, including USTR-designate Katherine Tai.
  • February: Biden will most likely make the first major speech of his presidency to a joint session of Congress, indicating the direction his administration will take on trade policy.
  • Mid-February: Semi-annual deadline for USTR to announce any changes to current retaliation on $7.5 billion worth of EU goods in the Airbus-Boeing aircraft subsidy dispute.
  • Feb. 28: Deadline for USTR to release its annual report on the president’s trade agenda. This would be the first such report of Biden’s presidency.

Engage with ACMA on Trade Policy

If you need to understand what relief may be relevant to you, ACMA members are encouraged to reach out to Lynn Noble (513-608-4749 for a free consultation with our experts. If you are not an ACMA member, please click here to join now.

Please continue to keep us advised as to how we can help you in this extraordinary time.

Samir N. Kapadia
Principal & COO, The Vogel Group, on behalf of the ACMA

This update has been provided in consultation with our Washington, DC-based government affairs and global business advisory firm, The Vogel Group –

Share this