Senate Votes to Confirm Lighthizer as Trade Representative

Jerome Frank
May 13, 2017

After a lengthy confirmation process, the U.S. Senate gave the nod to Robert Lighthizer on Thursday to serve as U.S. Trade Representative for President Donald Trump. The 82-14 vote follows months of delays on Lighthizer's nomination and maneuvering to pass a waiver allowing him to serve as the USTR. Blocking or taxing imports would raise prices of imports for American consumers and provoke retaliation.

The research says roughly 68 percent of Democrats ad 30 percent of Republicans hold a positive position about NAFTA in the U.S. And Peter Navarro, a vociferous critic of China, is advising the White House on trade.

Just two years ago, a solid bipartisan majority still supported free trade.

Two Republican senators said late Wednesday they would oppose Lighthizer. Sen.

The dairy industry is eager to work with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to protect and expand market access for U.S. dairy while addressing problematic Canadian dairy policies, the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) said following Lighthizer's Senate confirmation. Still, Wyden complained that he wanted to get more clarity about the administration's trade agenda, saying it's clear that different factions in the administration have opposing agendas on trade issues.

Lighthizer played a key role, for example, in strong-arming Japan into limiting auto exports in the 1980s.

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A former Reagan trade adviser and corporate lawyer, Lighthizer is highly respected in the trade world.

In 2010 testimony to U.S. "Mexico is ready to enter into a serious negotiation".

The trade issue has been turned on its head, to a position where there is now a bipartisan majority in Congress opposing the global economic strategy that has driven US trade policy for the past 35 years. The notion that having China in the WTO would benefit Americans, Lighthizer concluded, "was simply wrong".

Trump has lambasted NAFTA and blamed the agreement for the loss of millions of U.S. manufacturing jobs to Mexico. "Though Congress has the ultimate responsibility for reforming USA sugar policy to better serve American consumers and all stakeholders in the supply chain, we look forward to working closely with USTR to target and eliminate unfair policies and subsidies that limit the competitiveness of American manufacturers working hard to compete in the global economy", the trade group said. In his 2010 testimony, Lighthizer had said the USA should more aggressively scour WTO rules for new ways to bring cases against China - for manipulating its currency, say.

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