Ambassador Katherine Tai Samples Oregon’s “Fish and Chips”

This week I was grateful to host U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai here in Oregon for a series of conversations and tours about how to build a stronger and fairer playing field for both Oregon’s iconic fishing and powerhouse semiconductor industries. She and I joked that she was taking the Oregon “fish and chips” tour.

On a clear, bright Astoria morning, Ambassador Tai and I toured Cape Windy, a fishing trawler captained by Paul Kujala, who outlined some of the biggest issues facing generational fishers like himself: namely, a fair shot at competing in that global economy. And Oregon fishers up and down the Coast from Astoria south to Brookings – are not getting that fair shot. 

According to the United Nations, 90 percent of fisheries are fully fished, overfished, or otherwise depleted. Foreign government subsidies are a huge culprit in this global fisheries crisis, allowing foreign fishing vessels to pillage the waters of developing countries and flood U.S. markets with illegally caught fish. In addition to the environmental cost, these outrageous subsidies unfairly tilt the tables against American fishers, costing jobs in small-town, fishing-dependent economies along the Oregon Coast.

Oregon’s fishers play fair by fishing sustainably and following the law. I’ll always fight for their interests, which is why I'm pushing hard for a meaningful and enforceable outcome by the upcoming WTO Ministerial Conference in June. In the meantime I am also drafting a bill that would increase transparency about countries providing harmful subsidies and that would stop seafood produced with forced labor from entering our borders. 

From fish, we traveled to Hillsboro for a tour of (computer) chips with Intel. Earlier this week I joined Intel for the grand opening for its Mod3 expansion of the D1-X research facility. Computer chips are the beating heart of the 21st century economy. And that Intel expansion represents a powerful infusion to keep pumping both good-paying jobs and economic activity throughout the Silicon Forest and statewide. 

Oregon’s proven history as a linchpin in U.S. chip manufacturing is one of the reasons why I’m co-chairing a state semiconductor task force. Our state’s largest manufacturing export category is computer and electronic products like semiconductors that account for more than 30,000 jobs in Oregon, paying an average of $149,000 a year – two critical reasons that I’m working on a bipartisan basis to pass the FABS Act to bolster our domestic manufacturing of semiconductors, generating jobs here in Oregon and nationwide. 

This week’s visits served as a crucial reminder of how fortunate we are to have Ambassador Tai at the helm of the Office of the United States Trade Representative to fight for Oregon and our entire country to have their fish AND chips – a diverse economy of both historic industries and 21st century jobs.