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Biden Election Offers ‘Fresh Approach’ on Trade, Covid and Economy, Industry Says

The election of Joe Biden as the next president of the United States portends a turn in the right direction for a variety of key issues facing the country, from the environment and jobs and workers, to the coronavirus and trade, many industry groups said.

Most stressed the importance of the connection between getting Covid-19 under control and reestablishing a strong U.S. economy.

“We welcome their message of unity and inclusion, as well as the recognition that the mandate of this election is to foster cooperation with all Americans,” said Steve Lamar, president and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA). “We applaud Mr. Biden for making Covid-19 management and relief priority number one, and commend his efforts to build a Covid-19 Task Force focused on science, the health and well-being of all Americans, and the strengthening of the U.S. economy. We look forward to working with the Biden administration on these priorities in 2021.”

Biden’s campaign platform on trade stressed “strong and enforceable standards for labor, human rights and the environment in the core text of our trade deals.”

“Future trade agreements should build on the pro-labor provisions added to the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) by Democratic members of Congress,” the platform stated.

Biden said during the campaign that he would take aggressive action against China or any other country that tries to undercut American manufacturing by manipulating their currencies.

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The United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA) said it looks forward to working with the incoming Biden Administration and the Congress to “find solutions to the challenges before us, especially solutions to stop Covid-19 and to support the economy.”

“We believe that a fresh approach to trade policy and to American participation in global alliances will support the recovery today and for the future,” USFIA said.

Until a reliable vaccine is widely available and the economy can regain the strength necessary to sustain itself, fighting COVID-19 using all health and economic tools must be a top priority–for the rest of 2020 and into 2021, said AAFA’s Lamar.

“We are proud of the AAFA membership and our 4 million American workers as they have pivoted to supply critical PPE during the past nine months,” he added. “We look forward to protecting their safe operations and keeping doors open this fall, winter and into 2021, while we continue to provide everyday essentials safely to families around the globe.”

On Monday, the Biden-Harris team announced the formation of the Transition Covid-19 Advisory Board, a team of leading public health experts who will advise President-elect Biden, Vice President-elect Harris, and the Transition’s Covid-19 staff.

Biden tapped public health veterans Dr. David Kessler and Dr. Vivek Murthy, and Yale epidemiologist Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith to lead the team, stressing that “dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is one of the most important battles our administration will face, and I will be informed by science and by experts.”

Thea Lee, president of the Economic Policy Institute, said now that the 2020 presidential election is finally decided, working people can look forward to a moment of hope and opportunity.

“In January, Americans will have a president and vice president who have pledged to prioritize the needs of working families,” Lee said. “President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris won on a platform that addresses the urgent needs of working people. EPI has long called for policies that would shift bargaining power back toward workers, curb accelerating income inequality, shore up the nation’s infrastructure and educational systems, protect and expand social insurance programs, and help close gender and racial wage gaps.

“We look forward to working closely with the incoming administration to systematically undo the harm caused by the Trump administration and to build an economy that works for everyone in America, elevates the contributions of working people and is committed to addressing and reversing systemic racism,” Lee added.

Lee noted that many of the elections across the country demonstrated that progressive, pro-worker policies are not just good economics, but also can be electoral winners, citing Florida residents voting to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, and Colorado residents voting for a 12-week paid family and medical leave program.

“We encourage the incoming administration and Congress to focus on building worker power, fighting for racial justice, and making the transformational changes we need to invest in America, including through clean energy and other forms of climate crisis mitigation, public health, the care economy, the immigration system, and public education,” she said.

Across the country “working people are heroically and resiliently fighting back against this pandemic, its economic fallout, chronic income inequality and systemic racism,” Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, wrote in a blog post.

“President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris saw us, heard us and campaigned on a promise that we, as one nation, will build back even better than before,” Trumka noted. “That is why working people decisively rejected the politics of darkness and division and voted in record numbers for public servants who want to join us in writing America’s comeback story.”

Biden and Harris’ message and commitment to create “the most significant pro-labor, pro-worker administration,” he wrote, resonated with the ALF-CIO’s 12.5 million members and 56 affiliated unions “who are hungry for a bigger voice in our economy and our politics.”

“Now the AFL-CIO stands ready to help the president-elect and vice president-elect deliver a long overdue workers’ first agenda,” he wrote. “That starts with passing the HEROES Act to provide our families and communities emergency support and services in the face of this deadly virus…Once working people are made whole, the real rebuilding can begin. We call on Congress to pass and Biden to sign the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act early in 2021 to make sure every worker who wants to form or join a union is able to do so freely and fairly. Working people want our leaders to act swiftly and think more boldly than ever before.”

Many expect a boost to industry sustainability efforts, as Biden said Saturday soon after being declared the winner by every major news outlet that among his first executive orders after taking office on Jan. 20 would be to reenter the Paris Climate Accord.

“The association looks forward to working with the Biden/Harris administration to implement important safety, health and environmental priorities,” National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD) president Eric R. Byer said. “We hope the new administration will work with Congress to coalesce around a long-term infrastructure program, renew the GSP program and relax the tariffs on products from China, among other priorities.”

Byer said chemical distributors are an important part of the fabric of the American manufacturing supply chain, including textiles. Through NACD’s Responsible Distribution program, they work to protect the health, safety, environmental and security of their employees and facilities.

“We stand ready to work with the administration, new Congress and regulatory agencies to ensure we continue to operate safe workplaces,” he added.

Biden’s climate policy includes a $1.7 trillion investment in clean energy and green jobs, and calls for an end to fossil fuel subsidies and a ban on new oil and gas permits on public lands. The Climate Action Tracker (CAT), a non-profit analysis group that tracks government climate action, found that Biden’s plan would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 75 gigatons of carbon dioxide by 2050, blunting the impact of global warming by 0.1 degree Celsius by the century’s end.

The Paris Agreement, a pact signed into effect in 2016 by almost all the world’s countries, seeks to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius.