President-elect Donald Trump is close to filling his cabinet after selecting Robert Lighthizer to be his Trade Minister. The Wall Street Journal reports Lighthizer has negotiating experience from his time in the Reagan administration. If confirmed by the Senate, he will take the lead in talks that could culminate in the bilateral deals Trump’s team prefers. Lighthizer will be part of a revamped team whose mission includes confronting China and Mexico, which Trump contends have taken advantage of the U.S. under current trade agreements.
Farm group reaction to the choice was generally favorable. “The American Farm Bureau Federation looks forward to working with United States Trade Representative nominee Robert Lighthizer. Mr. Lighthizer has had a long and distinguished career in trade, working in the White House, Senate, and private sector to assure favorable trading conditions for American goods and services,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. Corn Refiners Association President and CEO John Bode issued the following statement, “For agriculture, Robert Lighthizer is an outstanding choice for U.S. Trade Representative. In addition to his service as Deputy Trade Representative in the Reagan Administration and a distinguished career practicing trade law, Bob was Chief of Staff of the Senate Finance Committee under the leadership of Mr. Agriculture, Senator Robert Dole. Bob understands the fundamental importance of agriculture trade and how to advance US trade interests. Congratulations to President-elect Trump on a great choice for Trade Representative.”
China is keeping a close eye on Trump’s trade plans. Last month, when Trump named Peter Navarro to the newly formed White House National Trade Council, China fired back stating: “Cooperation is the only correct choice.” Navarro has previously urged a hard line on trade with China and has made a film describing China’s threat to the U.S. economy. At the time, China said: “We hope the U.S. works hard with China to maintain the healthy, stable development of ties.”