New NFTC President: Trade Policy, At Its Best, Is Inherently Worker-Centric



Brett Fortnam | Inside U.S. Trade

National Foreign Trade Council President Jake Colvin, who succeeded Rufus Yerxa last October, is not thinking about trade policy in traditional ways at the start of 2022. He has inclusivity, and workers, on his mind. “I’m focused this year on thinking about how trade policy can advance local commerce for good,” he said in an interview with Inside U.S. Trade, “and so how do you engage on trade policy in a way that advances shared priorities and common goal of creating a more inclusive global economy?”

Trade policy at its best, according to Colvin, is inherently worker-centric — a calculus that fits his organization’s vision of trade with the stated goals of President Biden and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. “I think there is a real opportunity to elevate the role of trade policy and trade promotion programs in creating a more inclusive economy,” he said.

The business community has long held that businesses that export do better than businesses that don’t, and Colvin put that belief in the context of the greater focus the administration has put on inclusive economics. “Women-owned and minority-owned businesses that export do better than businesses that don’t export,” Colvin said.

Colvin is in his fourth month on the job, having taken over for Yerxa last October. But “nobody else knows [NFTC’s] mission better,” Yerxa said when Colvin was announced as his successor. Colvin has been with NFTC for nearly 17 years, serving first as the director of its USA*Engage coalition and then as its vice president for global trade and innovation since 2008.

As it fleshes out its worker-centric trade policy in its second year, the Biden administration should shift “from dialogue with the business community toward pursuing concrete deliverables,” Colvin said. NFTC will press the administration for those deliverables, he added, naming new market-access opportunities as a priority. He cited stalled trade negotiations with the United Kingdom and Kenya as well as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework the administration said late last year it would pursue.


Read the full interview with Jake Colvin at Inside U.S. Trade – note that Inside U.S. Trade has kindly agreed to put this story outside their paywall.