President-elect Trump has chosen lawyer Robert Lighthizer as U.S. Trade Representative, his transition team announced Tuesday morning.
“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 added. "He will do an amazing job helping turn around the failed trade policies which have robbed so many Americans of prosperity.”
Lighthizer, 69, who was deputy trade representative during the Reagan administration, would replace Michael Froman, the Obama administration’s representative who led negotiations on a Pacific trade pact that would have covered nearly 40 percent of the global economy and was seen as a counterpoint to China’s rising clout.
Trump, however, argues that deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership kill American jobs. He has vowed to make smarter deals and slap punitive tariffs on countries that violate trade rules, particularly China -- a frequent target of his attacks.
As a partner at the Washington offices of law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, Lighthizer has focused on traditional trade litigation, policy advice and legislative initiatives for a roster of large U.S. corporations and coalitions, according to the firm’s website.
Lighthizer has previously accused China of unfair trade practices, in line with views held by Peter Navarro, a China critic who Trump last month named to head a newly formed White House National Trade Council. In a 2011 article published in the Washington Times, Lighthizer said that using tariffs to promote American industry was a Republican tenet harking back to pro-business politicians who established the party.
“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,” Lighthizer said.