|United States Trade Representative
|Succeeding||Stephen Vaughn (Acting)|
|Born||Robert Emmet Lighthizer
October 11, 1947
Ashtabula, Ohio, U.S.
|Education||Georgetown University (BA, JD)|
|*Pending Senate confirmation|
Robert Emmet Lighthizer (born October 11, 1947) is an American lawyer and nominee for U.S. trade representative. After receiving both his undergraduate and law degrees from Georgetown University, Lighthizer joined the law firm of Covington & Burling. He later served as chief minority counsel and chief counsel and staff director for the United States Senate Committee on Finance. In 1983, during the administration of President Ronald Reagan, he became deputy trade representative. Lighthizer is a partner with the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. On January 2, 2017, Donald Trump announced that he planned to nominate Lighthizer as U.S. trade representative, a cabinet-level position.
From 1978 to 1981, he was chief minority counsel for the United States Senate Committee on Finance.
In 1981, Lighthizer became the chief counsel and staff director for the United States Senate Committee on Finance.
In 1983, during the administration of President Ronald Reagan, he became deputy trade representative. He negotiated two dozen bilateral international agreements on subjects ranging from steel to grain.
In 1985, Lighthizer negotiated against the United States, on behalf of Brazil, in a trade dispute over ethanol. Between 1985 and 1990, Lighthizer represented five foreign clients. According to filings with the United States International Trade Commission, Lighthizer represented an enterprise controlled by the government of China in a trade dispute with the United States in 1991.
He has been a long time supporter of the U.S. steel industry. He convinced Japan, South Korea, Mexico, and the United Kingdom to accept “voluntary restraint agreements” to limit the amount of cheap steel they could dump on the U.S. market.
On January 2, 2017, Donald Trump announced that he planned to nominate Lighthizer as U.S. trade representative, a cabinet-level position. Due to Lighthizer's prior representation of foreign governments with a trade dispute with the United States, he will first need to obtain a special waiver to bypass the Lobbying Disclosure Act. The waiver would need to pass Congress and have the President's signature to assume the position. Congress waived the ban for Charlene Barshefsky, President Clinton's choice for Trade Representative in 1997.
Lighthizer wrote that using tariffs to promote American industry was a Republican tenet dating back to the pro-business politicians who established the party.
Lighthizer has accused China of unfair trade practices. He wrote: “The icon of modern conservatism, Ronald Reagan, imposed quotas on imported steel, protected Harley-Davidson from Japanese competition, restrained import of semiconductors and automobiles, and took myriad similar steps to keep American industry strong. How does allowing China to constantly rig trade in its favor advance the core conservative goal of making markets more efficient? Markets do not run better when manufacturing shifts to China largely because of the actions of its government.”
Lighthizer suggested that the U.S. should bring more cases against China for failure to comply with the regulations of the World Trade Organization. In testimony before the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission in 2010, Lighthizer stated that "USTR (U.S. Trade Representative) should pursue WTO litigation with respect to all such examples of non-compliance. If necessary, Congress should give USTR additional resources to increase its ability".
Lighthizer has stated "I try to be friendly in negotiations. I'm not the theatrical type. The art of persuasion is knowing where the leverage is".
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