WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Biden administration said on Monday it would consider carbon border adjustment taxes to help cut greenhouse gas emissions in global trade and to combat China’s use of forced labor among Uighur Muslims in its western Xinjiang region.
Releasing a new administration trade agenda here, the U.S. Trade Representative's office said the carbon border adjustment, which consists of import fees levied by carbon-taxing countries on goods manufactured in non-carbon-taxing countries, would be considered as part of an effort to explore and develop market and regulatory approaches to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The broad set of trade priorities also includes committing to initiating and advancing factory-level labor enforcement actions under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement.
“The president’s trade agenda will restore U.S. global leadership on critical matters like combating forced labor and exploitative labor conditions, corruption and discrimination against women and minorities around the world,” USTR said in its report, which also included an update on the Trump administration’s final trade actions in 2020.
USTR said President Joe Biden’s administration had made it a top priority to address the abuses of China’s forced labor program targeting Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang. The United States will engage with allies to fight forced labor and exploitative labor conditions that disadvantage U.S. workers, it added.
China denies abuses and says its camps in Xinjiang provide vocational training and are needed to fight extremism.
Many of the sentiments expressed in the trade agenda echoed statements by Katherine Tai, Biden’s nominee for U.S. trade representative, at her confirmation hearing last week before the Senate Finance Committee. She vowed to hold China to its past trade commitments and said tariffs were a “legitimate tool” in the U.S. trade toolbox.
The agenda said the Biden administration was conducting a comprehensive review of U.S. trade policy toward China and would pursue “strengthened enforcement” of China’s existing trade obligations.
It also said the administration would use all available tools to take on China’s unfair trade practices, ranging from market access restrictions to excess production capacity, unfair subsidies, coercive technology transfers, intellectual property theft and internet censorship.
USTR said the administration’s new “worker-centered” trade policy would require extensive engagement with unions and other worker advocates. It will review existing trade programs to evaluate their contribution to equitable economic development, including whether they reduce wage gaps, increase worker unionization and promote safe workplaces.
Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Dan Grebler and Peter Cooney
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