WASHINGTON – U.S. President-elect Donald Trump said Tuesday he will nominate former trade official Robert Lighthizer as the next U.S. trade representative.
Lighthizer served as U.S. deputy trade chief under President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, playing a major role in negotiating some two dozen bilateral agreements on a variety of issues from steel to grain, the Trump transition team said in a statement.
“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 was quoted as saying in the statement.
“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,” Trump said.
In his new role, Lighthizer will closely coordinate 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 our trade deficit, expand economic growth, strengthen our manufacturing base and help stop the exodus of jobs from our shores,” the statement said.
Given Trump’s preference for bilateral trade deals over multilateral pacts, trade partners are watching whether Trump will actually withdraw the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, reached with Japan and 10 other countries, on the day of his Jan. 20 inauguration as he has pledged.
The TPP has been championed by outgoing President Barack Obama as a major component of his policy of strategic rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific region.
Lighthizer “will do an amazing job helping turn around the failed trade policies which have robbed so many Americans of prosperity,” Trump said.
Lighthizer said, “I am fully committed to President-elect Trump’s mission to level the playing field for American workers and forge better trade policies which will benefit all Americans.”