Senate confirms Trump's top NAFTA negotiator

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Senate Votes to Confirm Lighthizer as Trade RepresentativeUSAgNet - 05/12/2017Senators voted Thursday to confirm Robert Lighthizer as the next US trade representative, but the 82-14 tally exposed some discontent within President Trump's own party about the direction the administration is going on trade.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer was confirmed by the upper chamber by a vote of 84-14.

The president told an interviewer with The Economist that he intends to proceed quickly thereafter: Trump plans to file a 90-day notice with Congress, work with it on negotiating priorities, and start talks with Canada and Mexico later this year.

Sneeringer also commented on what he called "the excellent job" done by USTR General Counsel Stephen Vaughn, in serving as Acting USTR while the Lighthizer nomination wound its way through its multiple challenges. This is especially troubling because confirming a USTR grants the Administration additional legal authority to negotiate trade deals that Congress must consider under "fast track" procedures.

Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and who voted in favour of Lighthizer added "there are definitely opportunities to update and improve NAFTA".

Lighthizer has criticized some Republicans for being too pro-free trade.

"If you look at the trade deficit as an indicator - not the only indicator but an indicator - China is a good part of our problem", Lighthizer said during the hearing in mid-March. However, Korea's trade ministry said they received no official notice from the USA government regarding such talks. The United States slapped a tariff on imports of Canadian softwood lumber last month, after negotiations stalled in the long-standing dispute.

A former Reagan trade adviser and corporate lawyer, Lighthizer is highly respected in the trade world. It was unclear whether other GOP senators would join McCain and Sasse in opposing Lighthizer. "Our trade deficit with China has exploded, millions of USA manufacturing jobs have been lost".

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

Alan Wolff, a deputy US trade representative in the Carter administration, says China and other USA trading partners should brace themselves.

Representatives of Mexico's government and private sector are in Brazil this week to close new supply deals of corn, soy and rice, members of the delegation said Thursday. -China Economic and Security Review Commission, he lambasted US trade officials as too passive in the face of China's economic rise.

After withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation free trade arrangement, in January, Trump has been seeking bilateral trade deals with major trading partners including Japan that he believes will benefit American workers and industry.