U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai testified before the Senate Finance Committee on the Biden administration’s trade policy agenda for 2023, noting that she does not plan to include tariff cuts in the agenda for talks with India and other nations Indo-Pacific nations.

“At this moment we do not have tariff liberalization negotiations going on with a partner,” Tai said to the committee. She noted that USTR is “open-minded” but defended the administration’s unique approach to trade negotiations by not including tariff cut talks.

“The traditional approach to free trade agreements being comprehensively tariff-liberalizing has led to winners and losers,” Tai said to Sen. John Thune (R-SD). “While it has been, in general, very good for our agricultural producers, the other parts of our economy feel like the playing field is not level.”

The Biden administration is currently conducting talks on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, which includes India, Vietnam, Australia, Brunei, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Fiji.

Most U.S. chicken product exports to India, the largest of the nations in the IPEF, face tariff levels up to 100 percent. Tariff levels are also elevated on U.S. chicken product exports to Vietnam, which Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) noted in the Senate Finance hearing.

Meanwhile, China in 2022 finalized the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which included the nations of Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The agreement eliminated 90 percent of tariffs within the group of nations. Tariffs will be gradually reduced for most products over a 20-year period, with some being abolished immediately. Some strategic sectors for certain countries such as agriculture and autos are not included in some of the tariff cuts.

The Biden administration also still has not noted its support for congressional reauthorization of Trade Promotion Authority, which would allow the president to submit a trade agreement to Congress for a simple majority vote without the possibility of Congressional amendments.