The Export-Import Bank of the United States (US Exim) has hired David Trulio to lead its new export strategy, which aims to “neutralise export subsidies” provided by China.

Joining as counselor to the chairman and senior vice-president of the initiative, Trulio will be tasked with establishing and leading the new “Program on China and Transformational Exports”.

The strategy aims to help “neutralise export subsidies for competing goods and services financed by official export credit, tied aid, or blended financing provided by the People’s Republic of China”, says US Exim in a statement.

Trulio moves from the government’s Department of Defense, where he was senior advisor and chief of staff to the under-secretary of defense for policy. Prior to working for the government, Trulio held roles at global manufacturers, including as a vice-president for government affairs at Lockheed Martin, and director of operations at Raytheon. He has also held senior positions at the White House.

“David’s vast expertise in policy, domestic and international business, and national security, as well as broad experience with the interagency and diplomatic communities, provide a unique combination of insights and skills as we establish this vital programme to help level the playing field so that our nation’s businesses and workers can compete and win around the world,” says US Exim chair Kimberly Reed.

The seven-year reauthorisation of US Exim in December by President Donald Trump directed the bank to establish the programme, which reserves 20% of US Exim’s total financing authority, equal to US$27bn, for exports that compete directly with China, with a focus on artificial intelligence, biotechnology, emerging financial technologies, quantum computing, renewable energy, semiconductor technology and 5G.

The strategy plans to “advance the comparative leadership of the United States with respect to the People’s Republic of China”, as well as support US “innovation, employment, and technological standards” through direct exports to countries around the world.

“China is a strategic competitor using predatory economics to reinforce its geopolitical aspirations around the world,” says Trulio. “As President Trump has noted, economic security is national security, and I’m grateful to the president, chairman Reed, and secretary of defense Mark Esper for affording me the opportunity to join the Exim team to help level the playing field for US exporters, support US jobs, and advance America’s leadership in technology areas critical to our security.”

The hire comes as tension between the US and China persists. Last week, Trump said he may seek damages from China over the Covid-19 pandemic. “We are not happy with China,” he told a White House briefing, adding that he thinks the country could have stopped Covid-19 at the source.

At the same time, China tightened restrictions on the export of masks and other personal protective equipment essential in the fight against Covid-19, calling for goods to be subjected to mandatory customs checks because of quality issues. Some speculated that the restrictive measures are not only about quality concerns and that there could be other motives at play.