US President-elect Donald Trump today roped in Regan-era official and fierce China critic Robert Lighthizer as his trade ambassador who will be in charge of negotiating deals and engaging in trade relationships with other countries.
Lighthizer, a prominent trade attorney who served as the Deputy United States Trade Representative under the Ronald Regan administration, would replace Mike Froman as the US Trade Representative.
During his stint in the Regan Administration, Lighthizer played a major role in developing trade policy and negotiating roughly two dozen bilateral international agreements on a variety of topics from steel to grain.
These agreements were uniformly tough and frequently resulted in significant reductions in the shipment of unfairly traded imports into the United States, the presidential transition team said.
“Ambassador Lighthizer is going to do an outstanding job representing the United States as we fight for good trade deals that put the American worker first,” Trump said.
“He has extensive experience striking agreements that protect some of the most important sectors of our economy, and has repeatedly fought in the private sector to prevent bad deals from hurting Americans. He will do an amazing job helping turn around the failed trade policies which have robbed so many Americans of prosperity,” he said.
Lighthizer was an early backer of Trump. He shares many of the billionaire’s views on trade — including the problems posed by China and had previously accused Beijing of unfair trade practices.
In his new role, Lighthizer will work in close coordination with Secretary of Commerce-designate Wilbur Ross and Peter Navarro, head of the newly created White House National Trade Council,to develop and implement policies that shrink US’ trade deficit, expand economic growth, strengthen US manufacturing base and help stop the exodus of jobs from American shores, the transition team said.
Lighthizer said he is fully committed to Trump’s mission to level the playing field for American workers and forge better trade policies which will benefit all Americans.
Considered as a leader in US trade policy, Lighthizer has extensive experience in the legislative branch, the executive branch and the private sector.
Aside from his service in the Reagan Administration, he was Chief of Staff of the United States Senate Committee of Finance when Congress passed the Reagan programme of tax cuts and spending reductions and also aided the passage of legislation which implemented the Tokyo Round of trade negotiations.
He has also represented the US at meetings of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and meetings related to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (the precursor to the World Trade Organisation).
Lighthizer headed up the international trade law practice at Skadden, Arps Slate, Meagher and Flom for over three decades.