WASHINGTON, Jan. 3, 2017 – President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Robert Lighthizer as U.S. Trade Representative, where he’ll play a major role in Trump’s plan to scrap or renegotiate multilateral trade deals including NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Trump’s transition team announced the nomination early today. In a release, it said Lighthizer, who served as deputy USTR under President Ronald Reagan, will work closely with Commerce Secretary-designate Wilbur Ross and Peter Navarro, who will head a newly created White House National Trade Council, “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.”

In his role in the Reagan administration, Lighthizer played a major role in negotiating roughly two dozen bilateral international agreements on topics ranging from steel to grain, the transition team said. “These agreements were uniformly tough and frequently resulted in significant reductions in the shipment of unfairly traded imports into the United States,” the release said.

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

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For his part, Lighthizer said he is “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.”

Besides his work in the Reagan administration, Lighthizer was chief of staff of the Senate Finance Committee when Congress passed the Reagan program of tax cuts and spending reductions. He has also represented the U.S. at meetings of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and meetings related to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (the precursor to the World Trade Organization).

Lighthizer headed up the international trade law practice at Skadden, Arps Slate, Meagher and Flom for over three decades. The transition team noted that he has worked on scores of successful cases that resulted in reducing unfair imports and helping thousands of American workers and numerous businesses.


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