Last week, the U.S. Senate, on a vote of 82-14, confirmed Robert Lighthizer to head the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).
Lighthizer will begin work on a variety of pressing trade policy issues, including the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), expanding market access channels in Asia, and preventing the loss of common food names.
“We welcome Mr. Lighthizer’ s confirmation because of his grasp of global trade rules and understanding of the importance of balanced trade agreements to the U.S. dairy sector,” said Jim Mulhern, National Milk Producers Federation president and CEO. “We will continue to urge USTR to focus on protecting Mexico, our No. 1 market, insist that Canada revoke its detrimental new milk pricing policy, and pursue additional export opportunities around the world.”
During his confirmation process, Lighthizer said “ensuring that our trading partners meet international trade obligations, especially those of the World Trade Organization, is a core foundation for fairer and freer trade.”
“We wholeheartedly agree,” said Jason Scott, U.S. Wheat Associates chairman. “A good example is the U.S. dispute case against China’s excessive domestic wheat subsidies that violate its WTO membership agreement. The case recognizes that China’s policy restrains wheat trade and costs farmers in exporting countries billions of dollars every year. It is the kind of enforcement that we think must and will continue under Ambassador Lighthizer.”
With the full support of Lighthizer, his negotiating team and the new interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity led by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, many in agriculture believe the U.S. can overcome trade distorting policies and other barriers to help American farmers compete fairly for the increasing global demand for high quality agricultural products.