Updated at 8:20 p.m. ET
President-elect Joe Biden will nominate Katherine Tai as U.S. Trade Representative, a source familiar with transition discussions confirms to NPR. The source spoke on condition of anonymity about private conversations.
Biden and his administration prepare to face a drastically different trade landscape than the one Biden last saw as vice president.
Tai's selection was first reported by Politico.
Tai, who currently works as chief trade counsel on the House Ways and Means Committee, has already received praise from Democrats for her skills and experience.
"Katherine Tai is the most qualified candidate for USTR, and her nomination would reflect President-elect Biden's commitment to the Dignity of Work," Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a progressive who is a key voice in the Senate on trade, tweeted.
Katherine Tai is the most qualified candidate for USTR, and her nomination would reflect President-elect Biden's commitment to the Dignity of Work.— Sherrod Brown (@SenSherrodBrown) December 9, 2020
Ms. Tai played a critical role in securing real improvements for workers in the USMCA agreement last year.https://t.co/QIXkRw3Niv
"Ms. Tai played a critical role in securing real improvements for workers in the [United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement] last year," he said.
Rep. Judy Chu also praised Tai's qualifications and said she is "thrilled" to have an Asian American woman at the cabinet level.
As a Member of the House @WaysMeansCmte, I've worked closely with Katherine Tai on trade issues and know she is exceptionally qualified to serve as our USTR. And as Chair of @CAPAC, I'm thrilled to have such an incredible AAPI woman at the cabinet level to inspire others https://t.co/7wZPlg1i1X— Judy Chu (@RepJudyChu) December 9, 2020
If confirmed, Tai, who is Asian-American, would be the first woman of color to serve in the post.
Biden said in an interview with the New York Times last week that he would not rush to remove U.S. tariffs on imports of Chinese goods, one of Trump's signature policies, saying he wanted to review Trump's trade deal with China and consult with allies first.
"The best China strategy, I think, is one which gets every one of our — or at least what used to be our — allies on the same page. It's going to be a major priority for me in the opening weeks of my presidency to try to get us back on the same page with our allies," Biden said in the interview.
Matthew Goodman, who served in the George W. Bush and Obama administrations, including on the National Security Council, called Tai a "real pro, experienced in both the executive and legislative branches ... She's understated but tough."
Goodman says Biden's choice of Tai over a more political figure could signal a more active trade policy from his administration than trade watchers had thought.