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Can Biden put workers first in trade negotiations?

News of rising consumer prices on Thursday More than expected Last year, as the economy recovered, fuel was added to the smoldering debate over the threat of inflation. It also almost drowned another announcement on trade policy. The Biden administration wanted to send a major signal that it was out of the past.

Office of the United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai to AFL-CIO in a speech Thursday, the White House shifts workers from the usual focus on macroeconomic and business interests to negotiate with trading partners He said he is working to give top priority. In his speech, Thailand said the previous approach “created a gap of trust with the public regarding free trade.”

“We want to make trade a force for good and promote race to the top,” Thailand said. “The first step in achieving this goal is to create a more comprehensive process. To understand how trade affects workers, we meet and listen to them. I want to lean and learn from it. “

Our economic reporter Janna Smiarek Interviewed in Thailand Article published before her speechAfter this morning’s speech, Janna (who was also busy covering inflation news) asked what the Trade Representative’s announcement meant and what the government needed to do to make its commitment successful. Told me about.

In today’s speech, the Thai ambassador said the United States would prioritize workers in dealings with other countries.Obama administration said Some similarBut frankly, the Office of the United States Trade Representative’s priorities have long been driven by corporate interests, at least in part. This is not necessarily the same as a commitment to US workers. How important is this change if the Biden administration follows Thailand’s pledges?

As the Thai ambassador pointed out, it is widely recognized in economics. Too long policy makers and analysts have seen free trade as growing the overall pie without paying close attention to who is getting the slices. Focusing on the impact on trade distribution, especially what it means for domestic and foreign workers, is a real change that has begun in recent years. It would be a big problem if the Biden administration could make meaningful changes here, but I think it’s still a big problem how we can actually wipe them out.

This is in line with the broader changes in economic priorities that the administration is trying to convey to the public.It is included Payment in cash Directly to Americans through stimuli, and the Federal Reserve Board Reach full employmentFrom a political point of view, to what extent does this reflect an attempt to directly address the concerns of working class voters in a way that the previous administration did not?

Cash payments to American workers and their families began under the Trump administration, and the Federal Reserve is politically independent. The growing interest in full employment at central banks was actually a product of an era of relatively low inflation, leaving room to address the consequences of the labor market.

However, it is clear that workers, both Democrats and Republicans, have received increasing attention throughout the recent administration. I think some of it is caused by economics and ruthless facts. The proportion of workers in the national income has been declining for a long time, which is democracy, and voters are paying attention to it. When we talk about economic prosperity, who is bringing that prosperity-everyone, or just a few elites-is becoming an increasingly large part of the debate.

The Byden administration has already taken some steps in line with Thailand’s commitment to claim workers’ rights in transactions with Mexico and the World Trade Organization. But, as you say in the article, it’s not yet clear how the administration plans to fulfill its promises on a large scale. What do you look for when Thailand redefines its approach to trade?

In his speech, the Thai ambassador said the administration will use a meeting in Europe next week to launch “a new standard for combating harmful industrial policies in China and other countries that undermine competitiveness.” I am. It would be interesting to see what happens and how much the government can do to claim worker protection in trading partners like China, where US needs and priorities are less dependent.

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Can Biden put workers first in trade negotiations?

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