President-elect Donald Trump said Tuesday that he intends to nominate Robert Lighthizer as his U. S. trade representative, potentially signaling a major overhaul of U. S. trade policy once Trump takes office.
Lighthizer has long advocated a tougher stand on trade with China, which is in line with Trump’s campaign rhetoric.
Lighthizer, 69, was deputy U. S. trade representative under former President Ronald Reagan during a time of ferocious trade wars with Japan. He has spent the past three decades as a Washington, D. C., lawyer primarily representing U. S. steelmakers in trade cases.
He would replace Michael Froman, who led negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive trade deal devised to link the economies of the U. S. and 11 other Pacific nations. Trump says the TPP would take away American jobs and has vowed to pull out of the deal. He has also threatened to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, hammer out new bilateral deals and slap punitive tariffs on a number of U. S. trading partners seen as violating trade rules.
Lighthizer gained plenty of experience negotiating tough bilateral trade deals on everything from steel to grain during his time in the Reagan administration, according to a statement from Trump’s office.