Remarks by Ambassador Katherine Tai at the 2023 Concordia Americas Summit

MIAMI – United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai today delivered remarks at the 2023 Concordia Americas Summit at the University of Miami.  Following her remarks, Ambassador Tai participated in a fireside chat with Nick Logothetis, Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board of Concordia.  

In her remarks, Ambassador Tai highlighted how the Biden Administration’s trade agenda promotes resilience and inclusive economic growth throughout the Western Hemisphere.  Ambassador Tai also emphasized the Administration’s commitment to partnering with countries in our hemisphere to deepen trade and economic ties and to ensure that the benefits of trade are shared by all our people.  

Ambassador Tai’s remarks as prepared for delivery are below:

Hello, everyone.  It’s great to be here with you in Miami.

President Biden understands that putting working families first and strengthening our middle class is vital to our democracy, and he is doing exactly that.  

In the last two years, we have made historic investments to increase American competitiveness through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act. 

We have also restored and revamped our engagement with longtime allies – including deepening our collaboration with our partners in the Western Hemisphere – from Ottawa to Montevideo.

We have some of our most longstanding trade agreements in the region, like our agreements with Chile, Colombia and Peru, and also the Dominican Republic – Central America FTA.  

But to take us to the next level – to lift up workers, enhance fairness and equity, and strengthen democracy – we need to update our trade policy.  And that is exactly what we have been doing.

Let’s start with the USMCA, but you will see how our vision goes beyond that agreement.

Almost three years ago, we replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement with the updated and rebalanced U.S. – Mexico – Canada Agreement.

We went from having toothless side agreements on labor and environmental protections, to concrete commitments and state-of-the-art cooperation and enforcement mechanisms.

A great example is the USMCA’s Rapid Response Mechanism, which allows us to take swift enforcement actions against facilities in Mexico that are not respecting workers’ rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining. 

We have used the RRM on several occasions to secure significant outcomes for workers.

This shows you the kind of positive impact trade can have, when we work together.  This also helps American workers and drives a race to the top by elevating labor standards across the region.

Another important topic we’re working on through the USMCA is resilience in North American trade.

The COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s unjust and unprovoked attack on Ukraine highlighted and exacerbated vulnerabilities in many supply chains, leading to higher costs for manufacturers, farmers, businesses, and families across the region. 

So, to help address this problem, the USMCA Free Trade Commission recently decided to create trilateral bodies to enhance our coordination to maintain trade flows in emergency situations.  

Beyond the USMCA, we have also worked closely with other partners in the region.

We updated our agreements with Brazil and Ecuador with what we call “Protocols on Trade Rules and Transparency.”

These Protocols include new rules that could especially help smaller businesses compete and succeed – including things like good governance, transparent regulation, sustainable investment, customs, and anticorruption.

As you can see, we’re upgrading our existing relationships not only for today, but also our collective success and resilience tomorrow.  

Through that lens, it’s fitting that I just flew back from Brazil last night.  

Over two days of inspired meetings in Brasilia, I met with several ministers, business leaders, and stakeholder groups.  And I left with new appreciation for all that the United States and Brazil have in common. 

The Biden Administration is committed to seizing this moment of alignment with the new Lula administration to deepen the U.S. – Brazil trade relationship, strengthen labor standards, protect the environment, and make trade policy more inclusive.  

One meeting with civil society groups really stood out to me.  

The participants shared their efforts to increase entrepreneurship for small businesses, especially women-owned ones.  They also discussed challenges to creating economic opportunity for minorities, disabled people, and other disadvantaged communities.  

As I shared our own work and struggles on the same issues, I was reminded that the good fight we’re fighting – to use trade to champion the interests of everyday people – was a universal one, and that partnership across borders is key to build a more resilient, sustainable, and inclusive tomorrow for our people.

This is just the start of more engagement in the hemisphere, which brings me to the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity.

We launched this Partnership in January with twelve like-minded countries.  

As I said, the United States already has deep economic ties with the region.  But this is something broader – it is our economic vision for the Western Hemisphere.  

USTR is leading on the trade aspects of the Partnership, and it will not be a typical trade deal.  

It is an extension of our worker-centered trade policy, anchored in cooperation to build our economies from the bottom up and the middle out.  And it will have an open architecture for other countries that share our democratic values and our commitment to high standards.

So, we are creating new tools to address new problems that will shape the coming decades – to better integrate our economies, reinforce our regional ties, and ensure that the benefits of trade are shared by all our people.

Let’s work together not only to tackle today’s challenges, but also seize tomorrow’s opportunities.  

Our partnership throughout this hemisphere is instrumental to realize this vision.  And this really is a partnership – all of us pushing and pulling for each other.  

I look forward to working with many of you toward that goal.  Thank you.