Robert Lighthizer is likely to be selected as Trump' Trade Representative
Lawyer Robert Lighthizer served as deputy trade representative under former US president Ronald Reagan and has represented large US corporations as Skadden partner.
Now the legal expert could head up the US Trade Representative office, following his nomination from the new leader in January.
His candidacy is thought to be a further sign the incoming administration will take a tougher line on China, while promoting American industry.
And at his nomination hearing, which took place on March 21, he revealed he would not consider any deal with the UK until Brexit talks have been completed.
Lighthizer said he would not consider any deal with the UK until Brexit is over
International Trade minister Liam Fox is seeking to secure new trade deals
He said: “As you know, until the UK leaves the EU it cannot sign a comprehensive trade agreement and may be limited in the extent to which it can formally conduct trade negotiations.
“When UK Prime Minister May visited in January, however, she and President Trump expressed an interest in pursuing discussions on how to deepen bilateral trade.
“If confirmed, I look forward to working with Congress and other stakeholders on our future trade relation with the UK after it withdraws from the EU.”
His comments come after Republican Senator Richard Burr highlighted that Mr Trump has already stated “it is a priority to negotiate bilateral free trade agreements.”
Top 10 trade partner prospects for the UK moving forward Thu, February 16, 2017
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These are the top 10 trade partner prospects for the UK moving forward
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Until the UK leaves the EU it cannot sign a comprehensive trade agreement and may be limited in the extent to which it can formally conduct trade negotiations.
Robert Lighthizer, lawyer and nominee for Trade Representative
And highlighting the UK as one of North Carolina’s top trading partners, he asked whether any firm deal was in the process of being arranged.
He said: “One of America’s greatest allies is the United Kingdom, and the UK is also one of North Carolina’s top trading partners.
“There are many benefits to be had for North Carolina farmers, businesses, and workers by further increasing trade with the UK.
Robert Lighthizer served as deputy trade representative under former US president Ronald Reagan
“As soon as possible, will you make negotiating a free trade agreement with the UK a priority?”
A 69-year-old lawyer, Mr Lighthizer would replace Michael Froman – the Obama administration’s representative who led negotiations on a Pacific trade pact.
But Mr Trump claims deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership kill American jobs – threatening to can the controversial deals.