Trump picks Robert Lighthizer as trade representative

Washington, Jan 3 (IANS) US President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday picked Robert Lighthizer, a former trade official under President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, as the US Trade Representative (USTR), Trump’s transition team announced.

Lighthizer, deputy USTR during the Reagan administration, played a major role in developing trade policy for the administration and “negotiating roughly two dozen bilateral international agreements on a variety of topics from steel to grain”, the transition team said in a statement, Xinhua reported.

In his new role, Lighthizer will work with Wilbur Ross, Trump’s pick for commerce secretary, and Peter Navarro, head of the newly created National Trade Council at the White House, “to develop and implement policies that shrink our trade deficit, expand economic growth, strengthen our manufacturing base and help stop the exodus of jobs from our shores,” the statement 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,” Trump said in a statement.

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

Trump had made trade a centrepiece of his presidential campaign and called for dramatic changes in US trade policy, trying to appeal to angry and frustrated blue-collar voters who have seen manufacturing job loss in an increasing global economy.

He had vowed to pull the country out of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership and punish US companies for off-shoring jobs.