WASHINGTON – Representatives of the meat and poultry industry welcomed the Senate confirmation of Robert Lighthizer as the next US Trade Representative. Lighthizer’s confirmation received bipartisan support with an 82-14 vote.
Lighthizer is a partner at the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. He also served as a deputy US trade representative during the Reagan Administration.
“We welcome today’s confirmation of Robert Lighthizer as the next US trade representative,” said Barry Carpenter, president and CEO of the North American Meat Institute. “International trade is vital to the success of the US meat and poultry industry and offers great benefits to the US economy. We look forward to working with Ambassador Lighthizer to expand science-based trade opportunities and to improve market access for meat and poultry products around the world.”
USMEF’s Seng said one of the keys to ensuring growth of US red meat exports is the dismantling of trade barriers. “USMEF looks forward to continuing its strong partnership with USTR under Ambassador Lighthizer’s leadership, as we work together to open these markets,” Seng said.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is particularly keen that Lighthizer prioritize trade with Asian markets and focus on reestablishing US beef access to China and a bilateral trade agreement with Japan in place of the Trans-Pacific Partnership from which Trump withdrew US participation.
“As the 13-year ban of US beef into China has been lifted, we encourage US and Chinese government officials to establish a protocol for US beef so that we can start exporting to the world’s most populous nation immediately,” NCBA President Craig Uden said in a statement. “Furthermore, Japan is the top export market for US beef, despite a 38.5 percent tariff. With TPP no longer an option to us, we urge Ambassador Lighthizer to prioritize a bi-lateral free trade agreement with Japan so that we can compete fairly with Australian beef producers.”
Lighthizer also will lead talks with Canada and Mexico as the trade partners renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
“NAFTA has been one of the greatest success stories in the history of the American beef industry by removing tariffs on US beef exports to Canada and Mexico and developing roughly $2 billion in annual sales,” Uden said. “Any potential renegotiation of NAFTA must protect the market access and scientific standards that NAFTA has provided for the US beef industry for over 20 years.”