We’ll fix US economy before signing trade deals, says Biden’s Treasury pick Janet Yellen

Chiara Giordano
·2 min read
Janet Yellen, US president Joe Biden’s pick for Treasury secretary, has said the new administration will prioritise fixing the US economy before embarking on any new free trade agreements (REUTERS)
Janet Yellen, US president Joe Biden’s pick for Treasury secretary, has said the new administration will prioritise fixing the US economy before embarking on any new free trade agreements (REUTERS)

The Biden administration will prioritise fixing the US economy before embarking on any new free trade agreements, according to the president’s nominee for treasury secretary.

Asked about a possible trade deal with Taiwan, Janet Yellen said president-elect Joe Biden “has been clear that he will not sign any new free trade agreements before the US makes major investments in American workers and our infrastructure”, adding: “Our economic recovery at home must be our top priority.”

Although she did not mention the UK specifically, Ms Yellen’s comments will likely stoke fears that Britain will struggle to secure a quick trade deal with the Biden administration.

Her remarks come just days after Lord Kim Darroch said the UK would be “lucky” to strike a trade deal with the US over the next four years.

The former UK ambassador to the US told BBC Radio 4 Mr Biden had made it clear trade deals were not a priority during the first part of his presidency “and my guess is that certainly covers the next 12 months, it may cover the next 24 months”.

The Senate Finance Committee will meet on Friday morning to vote on the nomination Ms Yellen, the former chair of the Federal Reserve, paving the way for a potential vote by the full Senate later in the day or early next week.

Ms Yellen said the new administration planned to pursue "a robust trade agenda" and vowed to work closely with Mr Biden to "reach out to our allies, rebuild bridges and pursue trade agreements that support American prosperity and put workers first," according to a copy of her written responses to politician’s queries after her confirmation hearing on Tuesday.

She also said the Biden administration would undertake a comprehensive review of all aspects of former president Donald Trump's trade policies toward China, including Beijing's implementation of the interim trade deal signed in January 2020.

Ms Yellen, who would be the first Treasury secretary to serve as a statutory member of the White House National Security Council, further vowed to crack down on terrorist financing networks, and pledged a "rigorous" review of any foreign investments, also with the help of allies.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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