China, worker rights at center of Biden’s 2023 trade agenda

Date: Friday, March 10, 2023
Source: Supply Chain Dive

The Biden administration will focus on “re-aligning” the United States’ relationship with China and addressing worker rights in global supply chains, according to the U.S. Trade Representative’s report on 2023 policy.

“China, as a large, non-market economy, is uniquely able to distort the marketplace through unfair, anticompetitive practices, which harm workers and businesses in the United States and in other countries, including some of our closest allies and partners,” the USTR said in the report.

The report made note of the Biden administration’s continuation of Section 301 tariffs launched under Trump on scores of imports from China. In December, the USTR extended exclusions on those tariffs for another nine months — a signal that the tariffs will continue for the foreseeable future.

And there may be more action to come. “We are also considering all existing tools — and will potentially seek new ones as needed — to combat the harms of China’s state-led, non-market practices,” the report said.

Beyond tariffs, the White House has also worked to advance a policy that prioritizes domestic investments in U.S. infrastructure and manufacturing “to engage and compete with China from a position of strength.” The U.S. has worked to invest in technology manufacturing through new investments and legislation like the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

A new era for trade deals?

Across many industries, attention and talk has turned toward moving more production out of China. That is a process that began with import tariffs launched under the Trump Administration and was accelerated with the pandemic.

The discussions and sourcing moves come as both corporate leaders and politicians have become more focused on supply chain resiliency than they have in decades.

“There is a bit of a paradigm shift, that for the last few decades anyway we have been very focused on efficiency — the efficiency of supply chains and the lowest cost supply chains, just-in-time and the like,” Michael Froman, a former U.S. Trade Representative and current president and vice chairman for strategic growth at Mastercard, said at a summit last week held by the American Apparel & Footwear Association.


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