Remarks by Ambassador Katherine Tai at USMCA Free Trade Commission Meeting

As Prepared for Delivery

Good morning, everyone. 
Secretary Buenrostro, Minister Ng, and colleagues from Economia, Global Affairs Canada, and USTR.  It is great to see you, and I want to welcome all of you to the beautiful city of Phoenix.
I especially want to thank my team at USTR for organizing this fourth meeting of the USMCA Free Trade Commission.  Thanks so much for all your hard work.   
Phoenix is one of the largest and most vibrant cities in the United States. If you read about the history of Phoenix and Arizona, you will see references to the “five C’s” that have traditionally underpinned its economy: copper, cattle, cotton, citrus, and climate.
These industries are still important here—for workers and businesses.  But you may be more familiar with what we would say is its recent sixth “C” – CHIPS.  And by CHIPS, I mean semiconductors.  Those tiny microcomputers that power so many things in our everyday lives. 
During the pandemic, we all experienced what can happen when we have a semiconductor shortage.  It was not that long ago, but people tend to forget.  The pandemic exposed how fragile and dispersed our supply chains are, and for certain critical goods, how concentrated they have become in geopolitically fraught areas of the world.
This is why Arizona is becoming a hub to develop high-tech industries, including semiconductors.  But this is not just about this state or the United States.  Resilience is a shared North American goal, and the USMCA is central to achieving that vision.
I do not need to remind you of the collective challenges we face.  Supply chains is one.  A worsening climate crisis is another.  Addressing unfair, non-market trade policies—and the damage they are inflicting on our working communities—is also paramount.
As President Biden says, we are at an inflection point.  But this also presents us with a great opportunity—to use the USMCA as a force for the common good, to benefit more people throughout our societies, and to make our region more resilient and competitive. 
On supply chains specifically, the USMCA Competitiveness Committee was an early mover with FTC Decision #5, which lays out our shared commitment to mitigate disruption to North American trade during emergency situations.  I look forward to a deeper discussion on that work later today.
But you may know that USTR has also been taking a leading role to develop innovative trade tools and strategies to connect trade and other economic policy measures to bolster resilience. 
This work can feed into our existing work under the USMCA, where we should continue to make this a priority in our trilateral agenda, especially as we see non-market economies pushing into important sectors in our region.  We need to work closely on how best to move forward together.
Eliminating forced labor is another area where we have a unique opportunity for partnership, and this is also closely tied to our work on supply chains.
As you may know, our Administration has made it a priority to eliminate forced labor from supply chains, and also to stop the importation of goods produced with forced labor.  This is both a moral and economic imperative that we must deliver on, and it is an area where we must do more collectively.  I look forward to the specific session later today dedicated to this topic.
Of course, close cooperation does not mean that we agree on everything.  That is only natural amongst partners that in 2022 traded over $1.8 trillion in goods and services.
That is why we are here—to talk about how we can use the USMCA to address today’s challenges and prepare us for the future.
We all know that the Agreement’s first six-year review is approaching, and each of us have begun to hear from stakeholders about priorities for that review. For our Administration, the priority is making sure that more people—especially workers, their communities, and those that have been historically left behind by trade—can benefit from the Agreement.
To get there, trade agreements like ours need to be used and tested.  That means we need to continue to focus on full implementation, monitoring, and enforcement—especially with regard to labor and environment obligations.  This is critical if we want our Agreement to deliver real results for our people.
That is why it is important for us to hear directly from our labor stakeholders later today.  And I also look forward to highlighting some of the important work and insights from local tribal communities during our site visit later this afternoon.  I look forward to hearing from our coordinators and the committee leads on their ongoing work. 
Thank you.