September 7, 2021
Details of the New U.S. Trade Strike Force
The United States Trade Representative (USTR) will lead a new interagency trade strike force as directed by President Biden’s 100-day supply chain review. The strike force’s two functions—to recommend trade enforcement actions and leverage trade agreements—are already performed by existing federal entities, most notably USTR and the Department of Commerce, notes AAF’s Data and Policy Analyst Tom Lee in a new insight. Lee further notes that while leveraging existing and new trade agreements is one of the most effective ways the United States can secure its supply chains the Biden Administration currently has little to no ability to pursue new trade deals.
Nearly every administration has promoted trade enforcement as part of its platform to support American industry and workers. President Biden is promoting trade enforcement in the name of securing supply chains—and ultimately pursuing industrial policy. Regardless of the intentions, the trade enforcement efforts recommended by the [president’s executive order] are already performed by numerous federal entities, whether explicitly sanctioned or not. The trade strike force tasked with leading this effort is entirely redundant and unnecessary.
Even as the strike force is redundant, the goal of leveraging current and future trade agreements is a worthy pursuit. Congress should look to immediately renew the expired Trade Promotion Authority, which would at least give the strike force a chance to truly secure U.S. supply chains and boost economic cooperation between the United States and its strategic allies.