Trump nominates Lighthizer as U.S. trade representative
Veteran trade official has questioned conservative side's commitment to free trade
U.S. president-elect Donald Trump has named lawyer Robert Lighthizer as his U.S. trade representative (USTR), the Trump transition team said in a statement on Tuesday.
Lighthizer is an experienced trade official who has questioned the conservative movement's commitment to free trade.
Lighthizer served as the deputy USTR under onetime president Ronald Reagan, and played a major role in developing trade policy and negotiating some two dozen bilateral international agreements on topics from steel to grain, the transition team said in its 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 said in a statement.
"He has extensive experience striking agreements that protect some of the most important sectors of our economy."
Trump campaigned on a platform that included a pledge to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, though his tough talk isn't in complete accord with that of the Republican Party, which is friendlier to free trade.
Economists warn renegotiating NAFTA will create uncertainty for the $51 billion in goods that cross the Canada-U.S. border every month.
'Level the playing field'
Lighthizer, who played a senior role during Bob Dole's 1996 campaign, more recently worked on trade issues as a lawyer, representing manufacturing, agricultural and high-tech companies, according to his law firm biography. Lighthizer's bio also states that he focused on "market-opening trade actions on behalf of U.S. companies seeking access to foreign markets."
Yet in 2008, he openly questioned Republican presidential nominee John McCain's commitment to free trade in a New York Times opinion article.
"Mr. McCain may be a conservative. But his unbridled free-trade policies don't help make that case," Lighthizer wrote at the time, suggesting that free trade had long been popular among liberals.
Lighthizer declared his allegiance to Trump's approach on trade.
"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," he said.
With files from CBC News