U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, along with her counterpart from the United Kingdom, International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan, met with business and labor leaders at the Port of Baltimore on March 21 to discuss Atlantic trade. Local 24 President Sam Curreri was part of that group, there to be a voice for our members during the roundtable summit.
Discussions over terms of a bilateral trade agreement under consideration between the U.S. and U.K. changed when the Biden administration took over, Curreri said. Talks shifted away from a free trade agreement (FTA) model. An article on Politico predicted that in current negotiations, “Tai will emphasize several key priorities in her discussions with Trevelyan, the senior USTR official said. Those include enhancing labor rights, making workplaces safer, supporting domestic investments, building more competitive workforces…”
Curreri said he was glad to participate in talks representing labor in a global trade setting and cautioned that even industrialized countries like the United States and the United Kingdom need to be mindful of
agreements allowing supply chains that include factories with exploited workers in underdeveloped countries.
According to The Washington Post, “areas that Tai and Trevelyan said they’d work on include:
• Helping small and medium-sized businesses to trade by identifying barriers and sharing best practices
• Supporting the digitalization of transactions and trading systems
• Develop inclusive trade policies, protecting labor rights and tackling forced labor
• Building more resilient supply chains, in particular for food
“There are no better folks to sit at the table than folks who negotiate a contract every couple of years,” Curreri said. “I hope I have the opportunity to go back.”
Prior to meeting with the labor delegation, Ambassador Tai and Secretary Trevelyan participated in a tour led by Maryland Port Administration Executive Director William Doyle. Ambassador Tai and Secretary Trevelyan were joined by Senator Ben Cardin, Senator Chris Van Hollen, Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, and Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott.
Following the tour, Ambassador Tai noted the important role the Port of Baltimore plays in U.S. commerce and trade policy. She also emphasized how the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will help the Port of Baltimore, and ensure the United States maintains its global competitive edge.
Portions of this article originally appeared in the most recent edition of the I.B.E.W.’S Building America Back Better Newsletter.