Lankford Points Out Noticeable Lack of US-Focused Trade Priorities in Biden Trade Agenda

CLICK HERE to watch Lankford’s Q&A on YouTube.

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today participated in a Senate Finance Committee hearing entitled, “The President’s 2021 Trade Policy Agenda.” Lankford’s questions to witness Katherine Tai, the US Trade Representative (USTR), focused on providing tariff exclusion clarity and being forward-looking on our international trade policies as well as the need to protect American intellectual property, especially American-made vaccines that may have global applications but still need protection for future American medical and pharmaceutical innovation.

Lankford continues to lead in his work to ensure free and fair trade for Americans as well as protections for American intellectual property rights. Last Congress, Lankford introduced the Import Tax Relief Act to ensure American businesses have a fair process to request tariff exclusions. In an April Finance Committee hearing, Lankford focused on China’s human rights and trade abuses and their impact on American competitiveness. Lankford also recently joined his colleagues to introduce a resolution recognizing the mutual history and special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom and expressing the sense of the Senate that the President should lay the groundwork for a mutually advantageous future trade agreement between the US and the UK.

Lankford worked diligently with previous USTR Lighthizer on numerous trade issues, and Lankford was outspoken in his support of the Trump Administration’s successful negation of the US-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA), signed last year.


On the impact of extending unemployment benefits on supply in Oklahoma

Lankford: A lot of our domestic manufacturers are having a hard time getting labor, and that’s a conversation for a different day. But the labor folks in my state say over and over again it’s an issue of the additional unemployment benefits that are there. They’re having a hard time getting enough labor to provide supply. But that’s a different conversation for a different day.

On the future of Section 232 tariffs

Lankford: One of the folks that deals with steel in my state asked a very interesting question of me. His question is he’s got a lot of capital that he wants to invest into what they’re doing, but they have a very hard time planning right now because they don’t know what to count on the 232? Is it still going to be there for another six months, six years, 60 years? There’s no way to be able to plan for the expanse for them. So give us a good idea, give him a good idea on how you’re trying to be able to plan for this for the future, what happens to 232?

Tai: So I think here there are two levels to this question. One is, what is going to happen to the 232 as a tool? The other one is whether or not the Administration has a commitment to supporting steel production here in the United States? And let me take that second question, yes, clearly we have a commitment to being a strong country that produces and is able to produce steel for itself. In terms of the tools and the policies, I am open to improving and perfecting the tools that we have to make them more effective.

Lankford: Right. Being more predictable would be helpful in the process, just people need to know how to plan. They’ve been there for multiple years; they just want to be able to know how to plan.

On 301 tariffs

Lankford: When can we anticipate some kind of response coming out of what the plan is, because this is obviously not new to know. This has gone on for several years. Folks are not thinking about the reset of a new administration. They’re thinking about what’s happening right now and has been happening for months. When can they expect an answer?

Tai: As soon as we can, and ensure that what we are doing has been thought through and is strategic and has a clear objective…

On protecting intellectual property

Lankford: I understand we have a worldwide pandemic. I understand trying to be able to get the whole world vaccinated will be very important to be able to help global economic activity. Here’s the challenge: just giving away the intellectual property doesn’t solve the problem. J&J outsource some of its manufacturing to a location. They have the connection to it, and the manufacturing failed for the vaccine. And they threw out whole batches with millions of doses that are there. So just giving away intellectual property doesn’t solve the issue if the manufacturing doesn’t have good oversight. We also have other vaccines that are coming on the market right now, like malaria. That’s what we’d be talking about if we weren’t talking about the COVID vaccine, is finally a good malaria vaccine coming on the market. That’s also a global issue, and a concern is for cancer, for Alzheimer’s research, for Parkinson’s, for so many issues that are out there, if every pharmaceutical company suddenly gets a pause in investments, thinking, ‘I’m going to get a breakthrough but now the intellectual property’s going to be given away because it’s also a global issue,’ that becomes a challenge of getting future investment…