Trump Names Lighthizer as US Trade Representative
Jan 04, 2017 03:05 PM EST
U.S President-elect Donald Trump has named lawyer Robert Lighthizer, an official in the Reagan Administration as his chief trade negotiator, which will be responsible for better deals aimed at reducing U.S trade deficits.
After spending holidays at his private club in South Florida for Christmas and New Year, Trump returned to New York on Monday. He is expected to fill out the rest of the remaining Cabinet-level posts in the next coming days as he has only less than three weeks before his inauguration on January 20.
Trump, in addition to the USTR, is also weighing picks for Director of National Intelligence and the departments of Agriculture and Veterans Affairs. At the same time the President-elect is still filling out some top White House positions, according to The Washington Post.
As part of his promises during his presidential campaign to renegotiate international trade deals, Trump said in announcing his choice that Lighthizer would help to fight for better trade deals which will put American worker first.
Under former Republican Ronald Reagan, Lighthizer previously serves as deputy U.S trade representative who helped to stem the tide of imports from Japan with threats of quotas and punitive tariffs.
His return to the agency follows nearly three decades as a lawyer representing U.S. steelmakers and other companies in anti-dumping and anti-subsidy cases, according to Reuters.
As a tough critic of China, he has argued that the country has failed to commence up to their commitments made in 2001 when they participated the World Trade Organization. He also pointed out that tougher tactics, even if it means deviating from World Trade Organization rules, are needed to change the system.
In his 2010 congressional testimony, Lighthizer wrote "Years of passivity and drift among U.S. policymakers have allowed the U.S.-China trade deficit to grow to the point where it is widely recognized as a major threat to our economy." According to him, U.S policymakers should take these problems more seriously, and need to take a much aggressive approach when dealing with China.
He is also regarded as an experienced tactician with an intimate knowledge of trade tools that were widely used before the WTO was created in 1995, including "Section 301" tariffs used to stem a tide of imports of Japanese steel and vehicles in the 1980s.
During his tenure, Reagan struck the 1985 Plaza Accord currency deal with Japan, Germany and other major trading partners that brought down the dollar's value and encouraged more foreign companies to set up U.S. manufacturing plants.
A Washington attorney who has worked with Lighthizer for three decades described him as "very smart" and "totally fearless". Asked not to be named, the attorney also stated that Lighthizer, who is no fan of the WTO can be expected to use every tool available to create leverage on anyone to stop the cheating.