WASHINGTON, D.C. — Trade ministers representing the G-7 countries will meet virtually Wednesday to talk about World Trade Organization reform, health, climate and digital trade.
The meeting will mark the first time new U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai meets with the body of U.S. allies collectively, although she has already spoken with some members individually.
The G-7 nations include the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy and the UK.
The virtual meeting this week is expected to cover hot topics, including potentially reforming the World Trade Organization, or WTO.
The WTO plays a significant role in numerous trade policies that impact agriculture, including on country-of-origin labeling.
At her confirmation hearing in February, Tai told senators the U.S. "can't afford not to be engaged" with the WTO. But the organization, she said at the time, "does need to reform." Tai told senators she planned to ask tough questions about the value of WTO to its members and if it is accomplishing the goals expected of it, but she did not offer specifics on what aspects of the WTO she hopes to reform.
Leading up to Wednesday's meeting, Tai has also told policymakers she plans to form an alliance with trading partners to push China on unfair trade practices. Trade experts say some of those potential partners may be among the G-7 leaders.
On Sunday she told the Wall Street Journal in her first media interview as USTR that she has no immediate plans to ease tariffs on China, in part because those tariffs may prove a bargaining chip.
"Every good negotiator retains his or her leverage to use it," Tai said in the interview.
Many farm groups and industry leaders have expressed their hopes that, in conversations with international leaders such as those at the G-7 meeting, Tai will negotiate on behalf of U.S. agriculture.
Chris Novak, president and CEO of CropLife America, a trade organization representing pesticide manufacturers, said in a recent statement that he looks forward to working with Tai as she confronts issues on the global stage.
"Ambassador Tai will face a number of challenges — including strengthening the role of the World Trade Organization, ensuring proper enforcement of the USMCA (U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement) and minimizing disruptions stemming from technical barriers in trade," Novak said.
In recent statements, American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall has also expressed hope that Tai will enforce fair-trade rules, seize new trade opportunities and broadly "help America's farmers and ranchers compete internationally."