WASHINGTON—President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate Katherine Tai as U.S. Trade Representative, according to people familiar with the matter, turning to an experienced trade lawyer with expertise on China and proven diplomatic skills.

By selecting Tai, now chief trade counsel for the Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee, Biden would signal his intention to start working swiftly on pending trade issues while working closely with allies to confront growing economic competition from China.

Tai didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, and Biden’s transition team declined to comment.

Her immediate tasks will include the implementation of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement and deciding what to do with contentious tariffs implemented during the Trump administration. She also will play a role in crafting the administration’s policy toward China, including when—or whether—to start lifting tariffs on $370 billion of Chinese imports imposed by the Trump administration.

A fluent Mandarin speaker, she was a top USTR lawyer on China issues between 2007 and 2014, litigating Washington’s disputes against China at the World Trade Organization. She has expressed her views that China needs to be confronted strongly and strategically.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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