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Senate’s New Finance Cop, Oregon’s Wyden, Holds Keys To Biden Trade Agenda

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Senate House Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, a Democrat called both pro-trade and pro-labor, now holds key control over President Joe Biden’s trade agenda, with his purchase needed to advance the trade agreements in Congress.

But what Wyden doesn’t want, he told Reuters in a recent interview, is sweeping up new trade deals right now.

“I’m making the case, and you’ll hear it when we talk about Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, tougher trade enforcement will be a cornerstone of principle,” the Oregon Democrat said.

In particular, Wyden said he would be a “watchdog” on Mexico’s compliance with stronger labor standards in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, through a new factory-level inspection mechanism that assisted he did the design. He also called for a tough stance on China, specifically against forced labor.

Like Biden, and many in Congress, Wyden’s views about the benefits of free goods have shifted in recent years. In 2015, he cracked down on the current “fast track” negotiation authority that allows the Obama administration to strike the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. He took the heat for that effort from the left, with union groups protesting outside his Oregon home.

“What I’ve experienced is that if you really want to rally workers and communities that have been damaged (by the commodity), you say you’re going to do more for enforcement because that’s how you get a positive impact for workers and producers. , “aniya.

While Wyden’s to-do list often overlaps with Biden’s campaign talking points, there are differences.

Wyden will not sacrifice any jobs in America on carbon border adjustment taxes, which the new administration is considering, he told Reuters.

He will defend safe havens for U.S. technology companies and their high -paying jobs – many in his state of Oregon – at a time when they are being pressured by tax authorities and regulators around the world, such as Biden’s Treasury secretary Janet Yellen, who negotiates. an agreement on digital taxes.

The Commodity Promotion Authority, the “fast track” settlement law, will expire on July 1, but don’t expect Wyden to rush to renew it.

“I don’t see TPA being a big priority coming out of the gate right now,” Wyden said. “I want results for workers and their families, not more processes.”

OREGON IS THE “WINNER’S CIRCLE” OF TRADE

Wyden’s state in Oregon is often in what he calls the commodity “winner’s circle,” where he wants to put more Americans.

Oregon’s massive exports of semiconductors, semiconductor manufacturing equipment, wheat components and fertilizer will produce an international commodity in the state of $ 7.61 billion by 2020, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. In comparison, California had a trade deficit of approximately $ 240 billion last year.

Intel Corp. has nearly 21,000 well -paid workers in Oregon, making it the state’s largest corporate employer. The apparel giant Nike, based in near Portland, is both a major U.S. importer and local employer with 12,000 workers in Oregon.

At the same time, Wyden, a 6-foot-4 senator who often talks about his failed dreams of playing in the National Basketball Association, has become a staunch defender of Oregon’s lumber industry, applauding the tariffs of the Trump administration in Canada softwood lumber.

“Senator Wyden tends to be a bridge between free-trade fundamentalists and those who want a worker-oriented approach,” said Jamieson Greer, a trade attorney who served as chief of staff for the former U.S. Trade Representative. that of Robert Lighthizer during the Trump administration

He called Katherine Tai, who was sworn in as the first Asian -American woman to serve as USTR on Thursday, “highly suitable for the job, but he advised her to provide more transparency to the committee – something she didn’t take away from Lightizer.

Wyden said he agrees with the Biden administration’s approach of suspending certain tariffs in an aircraft subsidy dispute with Britain and the European Union to try to negotiate a settlement and work through the disputed tax on digital services.

Tai will discuss the issues in a phone call next week with UK trade minister Liz Truss.

But Wyden warned that if global negotiations allow Britain’s digital taxes to stand up and recognize U.S. technology platforms, “they will have problems getting a free trade agreement.”

(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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