Trump Picks China Critic Robert Lighthizer As US Trade Representative

Tyler Durden's picture

The Trump transition team announced that President-elect Donald Trump has named Robert Lighthizer as his U.S. Trade Representative. Lighthizer served as the deputy USTR under former President Ronald Reagan, playing a major role in developing trade policy and negotiating two dozen bilateral international agreements on topics from steel to grain, the transition team said in its statement.

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

The appointment is a further sign the incoming administration will take a tougher line on China, according to Bloomberg.

Lighthizer has previously accused China of unfair trade practices, in line with views held by Peter Navarro, a China critic who Trump last month named to head a newly formed White House National Trade Council. In a 2011 article published in the Washington Times, Lighthizer said that using tariffs to promote American industry was a Republican tenet harking back to pro-business politicians who established the party.

“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,” Lighthizer wrote. “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, Reagan's deputy trade rep, would replace Michael Froman, the Obama administration’s representative who led negotiations on the now largely defunct Pacific trade pact that would have covered nearly 40 percent of the global economy and was seen as a counterpoint to China’s rising clout.

Trump has argued for fewer global trade arrangement, and claims that deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership kill American jobs. He has vowed to make smarter deals and slap punitive tariffs on countries that violate trade rules, particularly China. a frequent target of his attacks.

Some more background on Lighthizer courtesy of BBG:

As a partner at the Washington offices of law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, Lighthizer has focused on traditional trade litigation, policy advice and legislative initiatives for a roster of large U.S. corporations and coalitions, according to the firm’s website.


Trump chose Lighthizer after considering several others, including Jovita Carranza, a former executive with United Parcel Service Inc. who served as deputy administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration under President George W. Bush. Dan DiMicco, former head of steel-maker Nucor Corp., was also considered.


Lighthizer met Trump at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida on Dec. 19. The president-elect is closing in on a full selection of cabinet nominees. Now that he has settled on his trade representative, top posts yet to be filled are agriculture secretary, veterans affairs secretary, and chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

The choice of Lighthizer would make sense because Trump’s economic plan is “Reagan-esque,” said He Weiwen, deputy director of the Beijing-based Center for China and Globalization and a former business attache in Chinese consulates in New York and San Francisco.  “In the second term of Reagan’s administration, his trade team put a lot of pressure on Japan in bilateral negotiations,” He said. “If Lighthizer is picked, a hardline approach towards China can be expected.”

Trump has also linked geopolitical matters to America’s trade ties, suggesting his administration will consider the behavior of countries on defense and security in the framework of its economic relationships.

Meanwhile, overnight Trump continued his attacks on China, when he warned on Monday that nuclear aggression from North Korea won’t be tolerated, and castigated China for not taking a stronger stance. China is the major trading partner of Kim Jong Un’s reclusive regime and a key source of its energy shipments. As such it has been seen in the past as holding some sway over Pyongyang’s behavior.

“North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S. It won’t happen!” Trump tweeted. And later: “China has been taking out massive amounts of money & wealth from the U.S. in totally one-sided trade, but won’t help with North Korea. Nice!”

Perhaps responding to this, also overnight China Daily reported that the Chinese economy has already passed the stage in its development that would make it vulnerable to trade war, noting that trade is no longer the main contributor to the nation’s GDP growth. The report also said that the nation is preparing for a rise in protectionism: “Protectionism will continue to rise and trade frictions will become more violent,” Li Guanghui, vice-president of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation affiliated with Ministry of Commerce, is cited as saying.

Whether or not China is invulnerable to trade war remains to be seen, but for now stocks are taking the very real possibility of one as quite bullish.

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VinceFostersGhost's picture



Only Nixon can go to China.


Only Trump can say........FU!

Paul Kersey's picture

Sounds like Trump's son-in-law might have made this pick.

"The Administration’s deputy trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, tells a Congressional panel that the U.S. stands to benefit substantially from the establishment of an American-Israel Free Trade Area that would eliminate all duties and tariff barriers on trade between the two countries."

HowdyDoody's picture

We fully support Israel's right to bleed us dry before it switches allegiance to China.


rwe2late's picture


the US needs a lot of imports from Israel,

especially  more Israeli citizens to run the US government than we already have.


GraveDancer's picture

China is the behind-the-stage conspirator of WW3!

Book> The Road to World War III: "Can the dark forces of anti-freedom "Trump" humanity?"



rwe2late's picture


to understand  US aggression against China,


Target China by Engdahl


The Coming War on China by Pilger


fedupwhiteguy's picture

Finally. Let's kick some ass!

Mass_hysteria's picture
Mass_hysteria (not verified) fedupwhiteguy Jan 3, 2017 7:34 AM

What do you mean by that?

Start more wars? Invade more countries? The illuminati way

VinceFostersGhost's picture



You're 180 degrees off.......we've been doing the illuminati way for a while now.

nevertheless's picture

And how does this change that? 

China has done what that America does all the time. Who tells us what we can do in our circle of influence, but America is knee deep the Asia's business.

We DESTROYED Libya because they were creating their own currency for use in Africa, and because that nation was a stabilizing for the the region. Can't have that, Kissinger taught America that, its all about keeping the world unstable, so you can rule by divide and conquer. And the first thing "we" did was set up a central bank...Trump is a NY business man, who the fuck do you think runs NYC? If there is a center of Illuminati power, it NYC!

It is disgusting how hyper simplistically so many here think, always ready to fight, never understanding America's rulers are the ones doing the "evil". 

This is more about Bricks, and Russia rising...


Shed Boy's picture

Your correct. That said, Z-heads have a hard time thinking outside the box they have put themselves in. I used to really enjoy reading the posts here and felt like there were a lot of folks here on the ball and really using their brains and logic. Not so much anymore.

So basically, your wasting your time if you think your going to enlighten the new Z-heads. Anymore, the majority here is like fox news fans from a few years ago....only able to regurgitate something they read but don't understand.

Thanks for being real and presenting factual, logical comments.

lil dirtball's picture

>the new Z-heads


Jeepers, creepers ... where'd we get these Freepers?

divingengineer's picture

Please use the Gender Neutral forms of Zhid, if you please.

Zhude or Zham. 

fedupwhiteguy's picture

Massy, , I definitely do not mean going to war. I just mean we should be way more aggressive in our negotiations then we have been in the past two decades.

divingengineer's picture

Pretty sure there's no Illuminati in China.

It's a white boy's club. 


DeeZ_nutZ's picture

this is going to be fun.  tween this shit out of china, the trump

Grandad Grumps's picture

I have always found that it is easy to be a critic. But, when being put into a position where one has to directly deal with those that one has been critical of, things get much more complex.

rickv404's picture

Yes, in reality Trump will be more of Bush and Obama than anything else. I don't see his trade positions going over big with congress.

new game's picture

you mean bought and paid for congress? you have a point til executive orders flow...

king trump by decree, lol...

nevertheless's picture

EASY TO BE A CRITIC WHAT?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We have the worst governemnt money can buy, and how many times do we re-elect the same Congressmen or Senators into office, or is it always the other guy who is the problem with governemnt, not our side? Americans are sheep. The greatest threat to the American people, American society is Mexico, bar none. But ask Washington who is America's greatest threat, "Iran, maybe Russia, Syria..." NO, Americans are fucking morons, who hate the media, as they gobble up every lie the media tells us. 


The one thing Americans have not been is critical, unless of course you are standing up to power, then we are all about tearing them down. 9/11, the Murrow Federal building, Iraq, ISIS, Libya, Syria...the world pays for our ignorance and indifference. The governemnt can do whatever it wants as long as it serves the powers that be, but the minute a politician steps out of line, the media will turn on him, and the people will fall in line to destroy him, no matter how great of purpose, because we have been trained like dogs, to attack on command. I remember when wiki leaks founder first hit the scene, as soon as he started releasing documents, rape charges were filed. Now, a critical thinker would have thought such charges were trumped up to bias people against him and what he was leaking, but based upon ones own political leanings, directly influences whether you though he was guilty or innocent. 


Who paid for the Iraq disaster? 


America was the greatest country to ever exist in the 1940's and 50's, from there, and accelerating from the 80's until now, America has been in decline. 


There is NOTHING good going on in America, absolutely nothing. Our education system, our infrastructure, our immigration, our employment...and much of it is because we spend so much time fighting imaginary enemies around the world. And instead of being critical and holding officials accountable, we allow ourselves to be divided, turn politics into religion and base reason on faith. No, we need more and more critical thinking, because what we have been doing is not working, and backing Trump while he turns the swam in Washington into an ocean of corrupt wall street filth and warmongering retired generals, who in the end will most likely be turned on us. 

Life of Illusion's picture


This is likely more about China going it own way, can't have that.

Someone wants ownership of chinese assets/co as they expand comes Mr Ross and gov heavy hand to establish ownwership.

nevertheless's picture

What the fuck is wrong with you people, China has done nothing "our" business leaders have not wanted them to do. China did not steal jobs, ruthless, treasonous American business owners went there. 


This is likely more about China going it own way, can't have that. Anglo Zionist run America must rule the world. Americans get nothing for this, but the Zionist Jews make trillions. 

"As Trump's trade representative, Lighthizer would play a key role in enacting a get-tough policy that could heighten tensions with China and other key US trading partners.

However, he likely will not serve as the main architect of Trump's trade policy. According to a transition spokesman, that role will go to billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, who Trump has picked to serve as Commerce Secretary".

Ross' background: Rothschild Investments

"In the late seventies, Ross began twenty-four years at the New York office of Rothschild Inc., where he ran the bankruptcy-restructuring advisory practice. In the eighties, after quickly expanding the reach of Resorts International to Atlantic CityDonald Trump found himself in financial trouble as the real estate market in New York City bottomed-out. His three casinos in Atlantic City were under threat from lenders. It was with the assistance and assurance of Ross, then senior managing director of Rothschild Inc., that Trump was allowed to keep the casinos and rebuild his businesses. In the late nineties, Ross started a $200 million fund at Rothschild to invest in distressed assets. As the U.S. bubble began to burst, he decided he wanted to invest more and advise less. On April Fools’ Day 2000, the 62-year-old banker raised $450 million to plunge into fallen companies."


More hope and change, as the swamp becomes and ocean, and American people stop being a passive observer in the destruction of world societies, and becomes an active participant in our own native civil demise. 

Mass_hysteria's picture
Mass_hysteria (not verified) nevertheless Jan 3, 2017 7:54 AM

The rothchild family created Israel and they control the American government. War with Iran and China is next on the table. 

Trump? Lol, if you thought he was an outsider, he tricked you good

nevertheless's picture

I was hoping his ego to be a great President would outwaigh his love for wealth. It seems so far my hopes were misplaced. 


What I see being set up is battlefield America, both inside our borders and out. I did not, and still would not want Clinton (though the more I read, the more I don't think she was the real choice of the olygarcgs, just a stand in, like Sanders). We needed Trump to push the issue, my only hope is the right, does not follow the left in being totally innefectual voters by not holding Obama accountable. 


The game is over, they have total control, and I think what we are about to see is push back, and a stern reminder of who is in charge. I hope I am wrong. 

BritBob's picture

The South China Sea – China is acting like it owns the whole of the South China Sea but all states are entitled to claim up to 200 miles EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zones) whereby they have title to all resources.

The ICJ has already determined at an earlier tribunal that No delimitation between states with opposite or adjacent coasts may be affected unilaterally by one of those states. And , The delimitation of the exclusive economic zone between states with opposite or adjacent coasts shall be affected by agreement on the basis of international law.

For that and some other interesting judgments on territorial seas (3 pages) and to gain an understanding as to how the world court deals with such disputes Google: ''Falklands – Territorial Waters Academia'' Or use link:

nevertheless's picture

Are you saying the International Court of Justice is a unbiased and fair organization, or another tool of the western oligarchs to justify hegemony over the world? 

wwxx's picture

I know, I know, beginning with Attn. Gen. appoitment on down, we dare not call it NEOCON INSTANT REPLAY.   rofl



Kefeer's picture

This guy is either a real "saint" or a real "devil"; he is both a lawyer and a member of the Council of Foreign Relations.  He has many accolades and been around for a while; so that will translate to one of two extremes imo. 


I have been checking the CFR membership logs as these appointments have been released; this is the first one I have found on the CFR membership.  I have not checked them all, but I do know there are some very "evil" people in that organization.

nevertheless's picture

Good information, not surprising, and disappointing nevertheless. 


I want Trump to drain the swamp, I want to give him the benefit of the doubt, but history and Obama has taught me that American politics are a total show, totally orchestrated and controlled. There is so much money at stake, so much power, it is not something the powers that be would risk losing. 


It is most likely, based on Trump's endless disheartening Cabinet appointments, that the powers that be are about to turn up the heat in this already boiling world. Russia, China, ALT MEDIA, Britex, are all growing threats, and we know, when these animals are threatened, the world gets a genocide, world war, or epic terrorist action. 


I don't like the cult of personality that circled Obama, is now being passed onto Trump. Obama's greatest evil was he blunted criticism, because he was a democrat (and a black one at that) doing what a globalist does. Now at a time when we demanded change, house cleaning, we are getting warmongering generals, and wall street filth, and we are supposed to think this is going to end well? I remember hearing the same arguments made by Obama for why he needed to hire Wall Street Zionist filth, and we saw how that worked out. Its up to Trump to prove me wrong, starting with building that wall he was talking about, and not one around China. 

Snípéir_Ag_Obair's picture

trade war precedes real war.

nevertheless's picture

Exactly, and all those who praise it, are the last ones you would ever find on a battle field, that is left for America's kids who can't find jobs, so their only option is the military (no coincidence there). 

GraveDancer's picture

WW3! Trump is Churchill...

Book> The Road to World War III: "Can the dark forces of anti-freedom "Trump" humanity?"


DuneCreature's picture

This will work out better. .. Mr Lighthizer might get the job done.

No stolen weapon designs sold under the table and behind your government's back so you don't need to arrange for payola through a bogus charity foundation and don't leave yourself wide open to future blackmail and divided allegiances. ..... Nothing to hide and no one to lie to.

Yes, just straight forward trade deals to worked out in the open and sunshine. No top secret UTTPT (Used Traitorous Toilet Paper Treaty) crap to cram through Congress at the midnight hour.

This should work out just fine. ...... We shall see.

CFR? .. Well, maybe.

Live Hard, Read "The Art Of The Deal" Before Going To China, They're Tough At The Table, Die Free

~ DC v4.0

HowdyDoody's picture

Stolen weapon designs? The US gives them to Israel and Israel sells them to China. Where's the theft in that? /sarc


DuneCreature's picture

Yes, and sometimes the Chinese do their own pilfering and cut out the middleman.

Live Hard, I Miss The Chinese Hackers To Chat With On Coffee Break, Die Free

~ DC v4.0

wobblie's picture

The US is moving toward confrontation with China. At least this "pivot" is giving them a chance to prepare.

Making the world safe for anti-democracy.

GraveDancer's picture

Trump is the Churchill in the impending Third World War!

Book> The Road to World War III: "Can the dark forces of anti-freedom "Trump" humanity?"