The Senate Finance Committee voted 26-0 on April 25 to recommend Robert Lighthizer's confirmation to be U.S. Trade Representative.
The full Senate must now act on his confirmation.
A total of 138 food and agricultural trade organizations and companies working through the U.S. Food and Agriculture Dialogue for Trade are urging the Senate to "expeditiously vote" to confirm Lighthizer.
"Given the Trump Administration’s plans to notify Congress soon of its intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, Senate confirmation of Mr. Lighthizer is particularly urgent," a letter written by the groups to the U.S. Senate reads. "His confirmation is an essential step in enabling the U.S. government to put in place its team to engage robustly in trade negotiations on NAFTA and with Asia-Pacific nations to further enhance U.S. economic growth and job creation."
Lighthizer expressed his commitment to build on the success of existing trade agreements and to pursue other trade accords.
In the letter, the organizations cite the central role the USTR plays in developing and coordinating the U.S. international trade policy and leading trade negotiations with other countries.
The letter emphasizes that delays in scheduling the Lighthizer vote risk "imperiling U.S. national interests" by creating a vacuum during which "foreign competitors are ramping up efforts to supplant U.S. leadership and 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."
The letter concludes with a plea to confirm Lighthizer immediately.
What others are saying:
- Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch doesn't believe Lighthizer needs waiver for his trade work with foreign governments in the 1980s and 1990s. – The Hill
- Lighthizer worked on the staff of the Senate Finance Committee, as a deputy trade representative in the Reagan administration and spent many years in the private sector litigating on behalf of American and foreign parties. – Los Angeles Times
Source: National Grain and Feed Association