Robert Lighthizer USTR
Robert Lighthizer

WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. – U.S. agricultural groups voiced approval for the confirmation of Robert Lighthizer by the U.S. Senate as the new U.S. Trade Representative, a position that plays a key role in the development and implementation of international trade policy.

"We welcome Ambassador Lighthizer and look forward to working with him to keep agricultural trade issues a top priority,” said Joel G. Newman, president and chief executive officer of the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA).  “During his confirmation process, Ambassador Lighthizer highlighted the importance of international trade in our industry and made note that U.S. farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses would be taken into greater account during the renegotiation of NAFTA.”

Following months of delay and urging by more than a hundred agriculture groups, Lighthizer was confirmed by a vote of 82-14 on May 11.

Lighthizer served under U.S. President Ronald Reagan as Deputy United States Trade Representative, playing a major role in developing trade policy for the Reagan administration and negotiating bilateral international agreements on a variety of topics, including grain.

AFIA said NAFTA will be at the top of its list as the Trump administration moves forward with plans to renegotiate the agreement’s terms with Canada and Mexico.

“We look forward to working with the new ambassador on the renegotiation of NAFTA and other trade accords to come," Newman said.

American Soybean Association (ASA) President and Illinois farmer Ron Moore expressed congratulations and cited Lighthizer’s understanding of the important role trade plays in the U.S. economy and agriculture community.

ASA, along with many food and agriculture trade associations and companies, has continuously been supportive of Lighthizer’s confirmation, highlighting the need for more officials who understand the impacts and importance of trade.

“As we urge prudence on any trade negotiations or renegotiations, Lighthizer’s confirmation will allow the U.S. to engage on trade negotiations that will benefit all Americans though economic growth and job creation,” Moore said.

Aside from his service in the Reagan administration, Lighthizer was Chief of Staff of the U.S. Senate Committee of Finance when Congress passed the Reagan program of tax cuts and spending reductions, and also aided in the passage of legislation that implemented the Tokyo Round of trade negotiations. He also has represented the United States 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).

He also has been an outspoken commentator on trade issues, giving speeches and writing articles for The New York Times and other publications, as well as providing testimony to key congressional committees, the U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission, and other government agencies with responsibility for trade policy.