Biden Trade Picks Pledge Work With Allies to Compete With China

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President Joe Biden’s picks to be deputies to the U.S. Trade Representative pledged to work with American allies to compete with China and to find solutions to longstanding disputes with Canada over lumber.

With China, “We have to be strong, and we have to get our other allies in the region as well to be supportive,” Sarah Bianchi, who would oversee the agency’s China, Africa and competitiveness portfolios, said at a Senate Finance subcommittee hearing on her nomination on Thursday.

“In terms of our competition with China, it’s important to be in the game, and be fighting for more open markets for American products,” said Jayme White, who would oversee Europe and Western Hemisphere.

If confirmed by the full Senate in a vote to be held at a later date, they will be at the center of a number of trade fights the Biden team inherited from the Trump administration. They’ll need to decide whether to scrap or build on a partial trade deal negotiated with China, and how to resolve a metals-tariff dispute with the European Union, which the bloc wants sorted out by the end of the year.

White would have to deal with finding a solution to the U.S.’s long-standing issues with Canada over lumber, with prices having soared to records in recent months, hampering construction. The Commerce Department in May announced plans for higher duties on Canadian softwood imports that would double the current rate if implemented.

Asked by Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley whether he agrees with raising the tariffs, White said the American mills are “within their rights to file anti-dumping duties, and to see that they’re implemented,” while adding that he wants to see a better softwood-lumber agreement negotiated to replace its predecessor.

Bianchi served as an aide to Biden while he was Barack Obama’s vice president and is a senior managing director and head of U.S. public-policy research at Evercore ISI. She previously worked for BlackRock Inc. and Airbnb Inc.

White has worked on trade issues for two decades, starting in the House Ways and Means Committee, and in the Senate since 2009. He took on the chief trade adviser role for the Finance panel, now led by Oregon’s Wyden, in 2014.

While Bianchi doesn’t have extensive trade experience, she’s an insider in Biden’s world. She ran the economic and domestic policy team while Biden was vice president, and has also served as chair of the policy advisory board of the Biden Institute at the University of Delaware.

White is a close ally of U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. During the Trump administration, the pair worked together on Capitol Hill to secure Democratic priorities on labor and environment provisions in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement -- resulting in the most bipartisan trade vote in decades.

USTR usually has three deputies, including one who serves as ambassador to the World Trade Organization. The White House hasn’t put forward a name for that post.

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