Trump’s USTR nominee pledges tough enforcement of U.S. trade laws

Robert Lighthizer gestures before a Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing on his nomination to be U.S. trade representative on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 14, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

By David Lawder | WASHINGTON Tue Mar 14, 2017 | 7:27pm EDT

President Donald Trump’s choice for the top U.S. trade negotiator on Tuesday pledged an “America First” strategy to aggressively enforce U.S. laws and trade deals to stop unfair imports and push China to scrap excess factory capacity.

Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. Trade Representative nominee, told senators at his confirmation hearing that Trump chose him because of his trade enforcement background.

“I expect that we’re going to have a very rigorous enforcement policy,” Lighthizer told the Senate Finance Committee. “This will be the point of emphasis.”

Lighthizer said he would bring as many trade enforcement actions as can be justified under World Trade Organization rules, bilateral trade agreements and U.S. trade remedy laws.

As a deputy USTR in the 1980s, Lighthizer, 69, negotiated Japanese import quotas. As a veteran trade lawyer in more recent years, he pursued dozens of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy cases against imports of steel and other products.

Lighthizer said he would seek to increase trade while making it “freer and fairer” to the benefit of U.S. workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses.

An outspoken critic of China, Lighthizer said Beijing’s industrial policies have supported vast amounts of “uneconomic” production capacity that would not survive without state support. He said this was particularly true in the steel and aluminum sectors, leading to the dumping of products into U.S. markets.

Lighthizer told senators that he would engage with China in multilateral forums to reduce that capacity, but said trade enforcement actions may be more effective by raising the costs of keeping such factories alive.

“It has to be more difficult for them to maintain non-economic capacity, and that means enforcing our trade laws, and it means encouraging other countries where they can ship their products to enforce their trade laws.”

Lighthizer said he believes China was a “substantial currency manipulator” in the past, but that it was unclear if Beijing was continuing to do so.

The comment was in line with more neutral statements on the subject from Trump administration officials more recently after the president threatened during his campaign to declare China a currency manipulator.

Lighthizer also pledged to fight for strong protections for intellectual property rights and for digital trade access.

In renegotiating the North American Free Trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, he said it was important not to lose gains in agricultural exports to those countries while encouraging more production to return to the United States.

Regarding Canada, he said finding a solution to a long-running trade dispute over softwood lumber would be his top priority.

Trump’s cabinet already is crowded with senior trade officials, including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and the director of the newly created White House National Trade Council, Peter Navarro.

Lighthizer said that if confirmed, he would have the USTR’s full statutory powers and would play a lead role to “sort out” U.S. trade policy, working closely with other agencies.

(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Leslie Adler)

Source: Reuters “Trump’s USTR nominee pledges tough enforcement of U.S. trade laws”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


3 Comments on “Trump’s USTR nominee pledges tough enforcement of U.S. trade laws”

  1. Joseph says:

    So, Donald trump thinks that he need a lightzaber to deal with China for free-er and fair-er deal. What’s with the new English intonations? US politicians are now going proletarian with low-class English now? No matter, how would he deal with China if he has no card to play and China knows it. For a ‘veteran’ trade lawyer, he must be aware how much the American has trampled Chinese intellectual property rights over the year, noticeably in the field of Chinese medicine and metallurgy technology. Of course what the American needs is to give an English name for Chinese things and register it first in America and it becomes ‘American’, and anyone who use it would ‘need’ permission from the American for a fee. There are numerous potent Chinese medicines that was Americanized with English name that bring profits to American pharmaceutical industry while the American smears Chinese medicine with dodgy Chinese medicine sold in the street of Hongkong. That’s why China and everyone else should pay no regards to American intellectual property rights as they have no regard to everyone’s intellectual property rights. The American even often disregard to intellectual property right of its ‘allies’/lackeys such as Australia, Canada and Japan who have to register their things in America. If the American is serious about intellectual property right, it should established a separate international or UN body with China to register intellectual property right, where the actual origin of the right is investigated properly, and not who register it in America first.


  2. Steve says:

    What enforcement of US trade laws.? The avalanche is China and running in front of it is Trump and his gambling cronies. They are trying to run as far ahead as possible because the socialist communist are about to smother them hegemonic scoundrels. Famous saying, they can run but no where to hide. Increasing tariffs and lowering taxes with poor infrastructures may give them a bit of a breather, but sooner & later they will be crumbed by the Socialist Communist.


  3. johnleecan says:

    What a bunch of manipulative liars these Americans!

    During the late early 2000’s, there were business people in my country who said that many Chinese products are subsidized by the government. More would say traders would import illegal drugs together with Chinese made products so their prices were very cheap compared to locally produced products. Since the main purpose was the trade of illegal drugs, those products imported together with the illegal drugs are sold below market prices so these can be disposed off quickly.

    Many local Chinese were suspicious of mainland’s businessmen since they would get rich so quickly. The local business people would invent stories of how the illegal drugs were packaged and shipped together with China made products.

    One case involved a local Chinese businesswoman who went to the media in 2004 and said that a certain mainlander was engaged in the trade of methamphetamine. Then the police got interested in the story. They tracked the woman down and asked her who the mainlander was. The police got hold of the mainlander, checked his products and warehouse, but there were no evidence of illegal drugs. Drug sniffing dogs were used too. The media was there together with the accuser, the policemen and the mainlander. When asked where the drugs she supposedly found inside the bag she bought from the mainlander, she narrated this story.

    She said upon arriving home and opening the bag, she saw a sachet with white powder. She then said the contents were methamphetamine. She then panicked and flushed the illegal drugs down the toilet. Since the police also got hold of the bag, they said there were no trace of methamphetamine when it was checked in the police lab. When the police showed her three kinds of sachet with white powder, they asked her which among the three was the one she saw. She picked the flour. The other two were baking soda and corn starch. When asked if she has seen methamphetamine, she said she doesn’t have an idea. The mainlander then asked the businesswoman to apologize or face a lawsuit. The woman apologized and later said she made up the story.

    My parents started a manufacturing business in the 1970’s but in the late 1990’s, I already said the business would lose to China made products. The selling price of the same item made in China is only one half of our cost. How can one compete with such ridiculous prices? During those times, many rumors were already circulating re the illegal drugs story. So in 2003, I went to China and what I found out really shocked me. The prices were really so low. Not because they were being subsidized by the government, but because of the incredible speed of manual labor, modern machines churning out products 20 times the machines we had, low wages(around 400RMB a month) with long working hours, superb infrastructure, and the best part – the profit margin of these manufacturers were so low but the minimum order quantity is huge. Some products we had to order from 2nd or 3rd level wholesalers because the 1st level wholesalers minimum were also huge. Imagine that the price of products that we imported from 2nd or 3rd level wholesalers is not even 1/2 the price of our locally produced goods.

    We met a lot of western businessmen and you can really see that some would salivate when they are calculating their profits. One Canadian businessman told me he sells telephone apparatus 8 times his cost. Many Americans said that China seems so far out ahead of America in the manufacturing industry and the Chinese are catching up with more technological advances. Many westerners would say they couldn’t believe it unless one visit China’s factories.

    With China’s labor cost now in the 4000RMB level a month, their products are still very competitive although many have transferred their business to third world countries. Many westerners are still doing business here and many have even lived in China for years.