A total of 138 food and agriculture trade associations and companies working through the broad-based U.S. Food and Agriculture Dialogue for Trade urged the U.S. Senate last week to vote quickly to confirm Robert Lighthizer as U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). In a letter to all senators, the groups noted that action on Lighthizer’s confirmation is “particularly urgent” given the administration’s plans to notify Congress soon of its intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
IDFA is a member of the Dialogue for Trade, which sent the letter last week following the Senate Finance Committee’s vote of 26-0 to recommend Lighthizer’s confirmation to the full Senate.
The USTR plays a central role in developing and coordinating U.S. international trade policy and leading trade negotiations with other countries. Confirmation of the USTR is an “essential step” in enabling the U.S. government to put its teams in place to engage in trade negotiations on NAFTA and with Asia-Pacific nations “to further enhance U.S. economic growth and job creation,” the groups wrote.
They emphasized that delays in scheduling a confirmation vote would imperil national trade interests, because foreign competitors are ramping up efforts to take away U.S. market share “while nervous U.S. foreign customers seek out non-U.S. suppliers to meet their import requirements to ensure basic food security for their people.”
“IDFA believes it’s important to confirm Mr. Lighthizer as USTR immediately to enable the United States to reengage on NAFTA and other trade agreements that will benefit consumers and the U.S. dairy industry,” said Beth Hughes, IDFA director of international affairs. “We look forward to working with Mr. Lighthizer, other administration officials and Congress to develop and implement an effective U.S. trade policy that continues to promote U.S. dairy products.”
For more information, contact Hughes at email@example.com.