Jan 14, 2021
WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday, USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward met virtually with Katherine Tai, President-elect Joe Biden’s designate to serve as U.S. Trade Representative. Tai briefed Ward and other members of the Ag CEO Council on the incoming administration’s trade agenda and showed deep understanding of the importance of trade for the agricultural sector.
Tai is currently chief trade counsel for the House Ways and Means Committee and served in USTR’s Office of the General Counsel, first as associate general counsel from 2007 to 2011 and then as chief counsel for China Trade Enforcement with responsibility for the development and litigation of U.S. disputes against China at the World Trade Organization (WTO). In that capacity she worked firsthand on U.S. WTO cases for rice and other agricultural commodities against China and has kept abreast of developments there in her current role in Congress.
“This meeting was a great opportunity to remind Ms. Tai of the challenges rice faces in global trade, including the need for sound, market-opening trade agreements and strong enforcement of WTO rules that limit domestic subsidies and prohibit other forms of trade manipulation that help keep us on a level playing field with production giants like China and India,” Ward said. “Tai’s knowledge of the rice sector and her work on the China cases at their inception should serve us well in the new administration.”
The Ag CEO Council, composed of leaders of some of the largest agricultural and farm organizations in the U.S., discussed many topics including re-engaging with the WTO, new free trade agreements with the UK and Kenya, and the importance of the Asia Pacific region as a customer for U.S. agricultural products.
Participants raised the importance of utilizing the USTR’s advisory system for regular engagement on trade policy issues with the private sector. For agriculture, these are the Agricultural Trade Advisory Committees (ATACs) and the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee (APAC). USA Rice has positions on both with Peter Bachmann, USA Rice vice president of international trade policy, serving on the ATAC, and Dow Brantley, past-chair of USA Rice, serving on the APAC. Tai agreed that these advisory committees need to be fully engaged in the dialogue about the Biden Administration’s trade agenda.
“We appreciate the Biden Transition Team giving us an opportunity to meet and visit with the nominees who will be taking the reins of agencies so important to rice, and we look forward to working with Ms. Tai as she takes on her new role at USTR,” said Ward.