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Former Clinton, Obama Trade Reps Say Lighthizer Could Bring Reality to Trump Trade Policy

Robert Lighthizer's appointment as United States Trade Representative could bring a dose of actual experience to the Trump administration on trade.

President-elect Donald Trump announced his intention to nominate Lighthizer, former deputy U.S. Trade Representative during the Reagan administration and partner at law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, as America's top representative on trade earlier this week. Former trade officials say the 69-year-old native Ohioan will bring a level of know-how to an incoming administration with a less-than-conventional approach to trade.


"He's really known for trying to promote American business and trying to take down what he considers unfair impediments to American companies doing business overseas," said Stefanos Roulakis, attorney at law firm Blank Rome who focuses on international and maritime trade.

But concerns over Lighthizer's protectionism could be overblown. "He's been a supporter of almost all, if not all, the trade agreements we have reached in both Republican and Democratic administrations," Kantor said.

To be sure, there are no guarantees Lighthizer will have Trump's ear, especially given that his background does not indicate he is entirely on board with the president-elect's protectionist attitude towards trade. President Obama has largely leaned on Michael Froman for help formulating trade policy, since his appointment as trade representative in 2013 and also before, when Froman was Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economic Affairs.

"Ross, Navarro and Lighthizer will all share authority, and we'll see how that sort of [arrangement] crystalizes," said Roulakis.

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"Former Clinton, Obama Trade Reps Say Lighthizer Could Bring Reality to Trump Trade Policy," by Emily Stewart was published in TheStreet on January 6, 2017.