New U.S. trade 'czar' Tai vows to promote equitable growth, give workers more say

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FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senate Finance Committee conducts hearing on nomination of Katherine Tai to be U.S. Trade Representative.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai vowed on Friday to leverage trade to help the U.S. economy recover from the coronavirus crisis by focusing on policies that promoted more equitable growth and benefited American workers.

Tai, the first woman of color to lead the agency, was sworn in on Thursday - her birthday - after winning confirmation by the U.S. Senate in a rare unanimous vote.

Tai told USTR staff in a letter that current times required new approaches and "thinking outside the box," embracing a more diverse team, and talking to communities long ignored.

"Working together with our colleagues across the administration, we will challenge the preconceived notions about what trade policy should look like," Tai told USTR staff in a letter. "Through unprecedented engagement, we will pursue policies that advance the interests of all Americans, support American innovation and promote broad, equitable growth by giving workers a seat at the table."

The former top trade lawyer on the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, Tai previously served as the China enforcement chief for USTR and knows the agency well.

In her letter, she mapped out key priorities, including enforcing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement that went into effect last year, rebuilding alliances, tackling climate change, ending the COVID-19 pandemic, advancing racial and gender equity, and addressing the challenges posed by China.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal and David Lawder; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)