Trump names China critic as U.S. trade envoy

by WorldTribune Staff, January 4, 2017

President-elect Donald Trump on Jan. 3 named a former Reagan administration official and current critic of Chinese trade practices to be his chief trade negotiator.

Trump said Robert Lighthizer, a veteran steel industry trade lawyer, will help “fight for good trade deals that put the American worker first.”

Robert Lighthizer
Robert Lighthizer

“He will do an amazing job helping turn around the failed trade policies which have robbed so many Americans of prosperity,” Trump said in a statement.

As deputy United States trade representative in the Reagan administration, Lighthizer was involved in pressing Japan to reduce its restrictions on American imports and its subsidies for its own exports. Trump has criticized China for similar practices.

As a lawyer representing U.S. steelmakers for nearly the last three decades, Lighthizer helped establish import duties that have reduced Chinese steel imports by billions of dollars.

Lighthizer argued in public testimony that China has failed to live up to commitments made in 2001 when it joined the World Trade Organization and that more aggressive tactics are needed to “force change in the system,” even if it means deviating from WTO rules.

“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,” Lighthizer wrote in 2010 testimony to Congress’s U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.