Politics

Biden picks new commerce secretary

US President-elect Joe Biden has picked Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo to lead the Commerce Department, helping set trade policy and promote US opportunities for growth domestically and overseas.

Raimondo, a former venture capitalist, is in her second term as governor and previously served as state treasurer.

Raimondo’s nomination will need to be approved by the Senate.

Biden also announced he had picked Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to lead the Department of Labor and California official Isabel Guzman to head Small Business Administration.

The incoming President said the newest additions to his economic team, would work “tirelessly” to give every American a “fair return for their work and an equal chance to get ahead.”

The Biden administration’s stance on international trade is likely to be a significant shift away from Donald Trump’s tariff-heavy approach. The Trump administration imposed tariffs on Chinese goods including steel to punish Beijing for what it said were unfair currency practices and potential national security threats. Those moves were largely opposed by US allies, including Canada.

Biden opposes Chinese tariffs and has promised to improve US relationships with countries around the hemisphere and globe.

But he hasn’t indicated that undoing the tariffs will be a top priority.

Instead Biden’s administration has promised more robust promotion of US exports and to encourage trade that emphasises protecting the environment and combating climate change.

Biden’s Commerce Department may see much of its political philosophy dictated by his choice for other top economic Cabinet positions, including treasury secretary Janet Yellen, who if confirmed by the Senate, will be the first woman to hold the post.

Yellen will be tasked with mapping the nation’s post-pandemic economic recovery, determining how to stimulate growth and safely reopen some parts of the economy that have been all-but shuttered for months. She has already said she plans to use her agency to help combat economic inequality, which has reached historic proportions nationwide, and to combat climate change.

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