Trump appoints pre-WTO Reagan official as Trade Representative

Robert (Bob) Lighthizer

President-elect Donald Trump has reached back to the Reagan administration – before the establishment of the World Trade Organisation – to find his Trade Representative.

Robert (Bob) Lighthizer is a veteran trade lawyer with a background in acting for US companies against their overseas competitors. As trade representative, he will take the lead on negotiating international trade agreements.

Mr Lighthizer, whose appointment was widely predicted, was a deputy USTR during the Reagan administration.

He joins a wider trade team that includes Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, economist Peter Navarro, who has long opposed Chinese trade practices, and Dan DiMicco, a former steel industry executive.

This group will advance the Trump administration’s protectionist trade policies of restricting imports and forcing US-based companies to end their offshore manufacturing.

Just yesterday, Mr Trump tweeted, “General Motors is sending Mexican made model of Chevy Cruze to US car dealers-tax free across border. Make in USA or pay big border tax!”

GM says it builds only the hatchback version of the Chevrolet Cruze “for global markets in Mexico, with a small number sold in the US.”

At the same time Ford says it has scrapped plans for a new small-car factory in Mexico. Mr Trump has long criticised Ford’s plans to build the new $US1.6 billion assembly plant.

Instead, Ford says it will now make small cars in an existing Mexican factory and invest $US700 million in a Michigan facility that will build electric vehicles.

Earlier, heating and air-conditioner giant Carrier agreed to can its proposed shift of a manufacturing facility to Mexico to take advantage of lower costs.

Lighthizer’s background
After serving in the Reagan administration, Mr Lighthizer has spent three decades as a trade lawyer fighting for punitive tariffs on overseas companies.

These have included Mr Lighthizer working with Mr DiMicco for tariffs to defend the US steel industry against Asian imports.

Like Mr Navarro, Mr Lighthizer is a staunch critic of China and in 2010 suggested that running afoul of the regular rules of the WTO or provoking retaliation from China might be acceptable if Beijing continues to violate trade norms.

“One must ask whether potential retaliation from China really would or could even remotely offset the benefits to the United States of more aggressive trade measures,” he said in testimony before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

A flavour for future policies comes from the Trump transition team in announcing Mr Lighthizer’s appointment. It recalls the Reagan administration’s series of bilateral trade deals before the WTO was created to advance multilateralism.

“These agreements were uniformly tough and frequently resulted in significant reductions in the shipment of unfairly traded imports into the United States,” the transition team announcement says.

These deals had a significant strategic function during the Cold War and differ from later deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, or Nafta, and the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“I am 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,” Mr. Lighthizer said in a statement released by Mr Trump’s team.


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If the Trump model is the new world order will NZ continue to play the failed globalisation model and continue as peasant farmers/producers to the world or protect our own industries and jobs?

From a historical point of view we will continue as peasants playing a globalisation game while the USA China and Europe continue to protect their markets and businesses.

Hopefully one day soon NZ will wake up and get smarter and play the same game

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The Scribe?
Do you really believe that NZ can put up trade barriers and still dispose of our surplus production profitably?
If you do. What barriers would you have us put in place? And please, what "jobs" are you talking about protecting?

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Firstly I wouldn't allow imports of timber finished products made from NZ timber
Or I wouldn't allow our seafood to be caught by boats crewed by Philipino's and then exported to the Philipines or Malaysia to be processed and then sent back here

Or wool carpet made from NZ wool

And as a further step I would support NZ industries to create value add businesses - like in the timber, dairy, meat sectors and possibly in the fashion and clothing industry

I agree that we can't go back to the National Government sponsored car industry that only supported Nationals donors ( not sure if that included the likes of the Todd Family with their Mitsubishi franchise that reassembled cars here ) or in the TV sector with multinational Phillips and a few making video machines etc.

I am talking about protecting industries and sectors that we can deliver on and also build new industries - instead of selling out or being pressured to sell raw product.

You might sit in Remuera or Karori drinking Pimms pretending all is good but a lot of people are suffering while the greedy sell everyone else out for a quick buck and get sucked into the globalization regime when all the big players n globalization are doing exactly the opposite - they protect all of their key industries and their jobs

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.. the protectionist policies you describe weren't Nationals although they didn't abolish them ... if National could be criticised in the manner you describe it would be for subsidising the agricultural sector although Labour also did this at times ... you argument is horribly confused and lacks historical credibility

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You are, as usual, talking nonsense. Your prescription would lead NZ into an economic mess. We tried your prescription in the days of Walter Nash and the cost of most consumer goods was prohibitive with inferior quality and no innovation.

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Ah yes, doesn't it make you yearn for the good old days when things like new TV's and cars were pulled apart in their overseas efficient factories, to be sent here in pieces to be re-assembled by "our own industries". Of course it cost a lot more and you could never get what you wanted, when you wanted it, but hey who cared, because we had "our own industries".

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Except that 'playing the same game' will simply make NZ poorer still. Taxing one's exports, by putting tariffs on imports, is not, and has never been, a profitable strategy.

What industries and businesses do you envisage NZ 'protecting'?

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If someone else throws rocks into their harbours why should we follow suit? The point of trade is for the imports as that is the stuff that we can consume and the purpose of an economy is for consumption; if a country wants to do something utterly stupid and put tariffs on their imports then why does that effect us?

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Obviously you are young. Let me assure you the days when we could only buy one brand of carpet, woollen of course, and crockery to heavy too lift, were not fun. Crown Lynn was the pottery, made here and a complete joke. Lichfield shirts, like wearing sand paper, and expensive; at least there was a choice of colours, grey or white. Customs officers going through all your luggage to make sure you didn't have a new singlet tucked in your case. Customs officers swarming on every foreign ship to make sure the crew weren't smuggling in evils such as transistor radios, (Bell made radios locally - every house would have has a bakelite Bell radio) Yeah - those were the days. If you purcased postal vouchers you could accumulate enought o buy from aan overseaas catalogue. You could buy one per day, value 50 cents. It took ages to accumulate enough for a car coat. A popular garment in the sixties. I shudder when I hear of protectionist trade policies. So should you.

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"Customs officers going through all your luggage to make sure you didn't have a new singlet tucked in your case."

Yes I remember those days and they weren't really that long ago either. It was horrible coming back from overseas and into New Zealand. After being sprayed like an insect in the aircraft by grim-faced men in dark walk shorts, white shirts (no doubt Lichfield) and knee length dress socks, Customs went through every passengers' suitcase with a fine tooth comb disassembling them of all their packed contents just to make sure no one was bringing in anything not allowed, not declared, or not subject to stiff import duties. Anything brought overseas had to be declared and duty paid there and then. The only other country where I was ever subjected to such intense scrutiny by the authorities was upon leaving Communist China to make sure everything I came in with I left with, camera, watch, jewellery, books, and that I wasn't taking anything not allowed, out. And that was in 1981. New Zealanders in those days were treated like convicted criminals entering jail every time they flew back into the country.

And don't even get me started on how much money you were allowed to take out of the country to spend. $1000 a month to a maximum of $4000 pa. If you wanted more you either had to have foreign reserves of your own or you had to apply for a permit from the Reserve Bank. And whenever we did apply the answer was no! It was pathetic. And you couldn't buy anything worthwhile for $4000 even back then.

No thank you for a return to those days. And those who are calling for that are naive and deluded fools.

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All other things being equal Trade is a win/win not the zero sum game dolts like Trump believe it is. Watch for the next Global Depression within the next 18 months.

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Trump will bully and bluster and lie (sorry be a post-truthist, if that's the correct word...) when it suits him and the reverse when it doesn't.

Cake and eat it. See story below for USA using WTO when it suits. Indonesia wanted to make Indonesia great (not sure about the again though) and look what happened to other countries.

https://www.nbr.co.nz/article/nz-us-win-wto-case-against-indonesia-trade...

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