Robert Lighthizer Blew Up 60 Years of Trade Policy. Nobody Knows What Happens Next. — ProPublica

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Trump’s trade representative joined the government on a mission: to bring back factory jobs from overseas. The result so far? Endless trade wars, alienated allies and manufacturing decline.


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On a spring day in 2017, Robert Lighthizer walked into the door of the Office of the United States Trade Representative and introduced himself to a career who introduced a generation of American trade policy. After months of confusion awaiting confirmation from Lighthizer, officials are eager for stability. Lighthizer provided deep expertise in a cabinet full of government novices. As a Washington agent with many years of international trade experience, he seems to be the best appointment possible in this situation.

Nevertheless, there is considerable concern among the hundreds of USTR personnel gathered in the auditorium. President Donald Trump's campaign was a treaty that severely criticized people in the conference room for years of hard work. Trump once said: "If you have smart people, free trade would be great." This is the first time he took the escalator in Trump Tower to announce his candidacy. "But we have stupid people."

Lighthizer made a conciliatory tone at the first meeting-an official said, "He will adopt a method that some of us might disagree with, but he is willing to listen to our opinions." Another person recalled. : "He set a broad goal of correcting the mistakes we encountered, but also tried to reassure people and respect the abilities of employees."

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For the next 3.5 years, Lighthizer did listen to the employees he inherited. But this rust belt kid has honed his views through years of fighting against the improper conduct of US trading partners. He clearly demonstrated the essence of his criticism of Trump’s US trade policy, if not the tone.

Lighthizer proposed a bold plan to rebalance global trade relations with the United States, impose high tariffs, restrict international institutions, withdraw from agreements and threaten to give up more. His boss is a self-styled trader and likes this tactic. Lighthizer delivered everything Trump asked for and did it without asking for any honour-retaining his position while other White House personnel came and went.

With only a few weeks before the election, it is worth summarizing how this iconic element of Trump’s agenda has been achieved. This story is based on interviews with dozens of current and former staff of the USTR, their counterparts in other countries, and interest groups-most of them spoke anonymously in order to maintain their relationship with Trang The relationship between the general government. Lechhizer himself and most of the former top representatives declined to be interviewed.

The picture that appears is very complicated. Even critics of the government say that when Lighthizer made his point, the modest tactics adopted by his predecessors were not effective. They admit that the once obscure USTR is stronger than ever, and its mission has shifted from reducing investment barriers for overseas companies to resetting obstacles that may force these companies to stay in the United States after decades of manufacturing recession. work.

Along the way, Lighthizer has changed the rules of the international trading system and has fallen into chaos as companies compete to comply with changes in import costs. He disrupted international relations and maintained tariffs

Imported goods and reached a series of piecemeal and subtle agreements with trading partners that are as good as the next president’s commitment to implementing them.

So far, the benefits of this turmoil have been difficult to see. The gap between Americans

Becomes unprecedentedly large in the manufacturing process


To the extent that manufacturers withdraw from China, they have moved to countries such as Vietnam and Mexico instead of establishing factories in the United States. To some extent, the manufacturer has withdrawn from China, and Lighthizer has failed to achieve his most ambitious goals, because the violent president suddenly twists and turns to undermine the patient’s perseverance, and his trade representatives build on this Reputation.

In their defense, reversing the global trade ship may require a term of more than four years. The stated goal of Lighthizer is to return to a world where everyone follows the same rules and does not require punitive obstacles, and he is likely to get there over time.

But this seems unlikely. Lori Wallach, head of Global Trade Watch, the free watch organization "Public Citizen", won praise for Lighthizer, who tried to break the mainstream bipartisan consensus: Free Trade General will be better. She still believes that Trump's strategy undermines his goal of restoring American industrial power.

Wallach said: “Lighthizer has changed a lot of mindsets in dramatic ways, which is remarkable.” At the same time, she admitted, “Although for decades, he could not reverse the rigid, job-stuffing trade policy that we still Seeing a larger trade deficit than when Trump took office and the ongoing work outsourcing, despite efforts to reverse the situation."

Despite spending his entire career in Washington, Lighthizer's trade skepticism over the past few decades has made him stand out from the consensus of seeing the North American Free Trade Agreement.

With the enthusiastic support of both parties.

He is a native of Ashtabula, Ohio, on the shore of Lake Erie. He grew up in a relatively affluent environment, struggling with the pain of the massive shrinkage of the steel industry. As a product of a Catholic school, Lighthizer went to Georgetown University and stayed at the law school there. He then worked for the prestigious Covington & Burling company until 1978, when the Republican Senator Bob Dole of Kansas sought out any savvy conservative lawyer who might join its finance committee staff from partners there. He became a capitol

, And placed itself in the mainstream of conservatives, cut budgets, and implemented Ronald Reagan’s massive tax cut plan through Congress.

In 1983, he joined Reagan's White House as deputy trade representative, demanding that he handle everything from the grain treaty with the Soviet Union to the import of textiles from China. but he

, Some from his hometown, from Japan. He realized that entering the U.S. market is a big enough carrot to get preferential treatment from trading partners.

"I tried to be friendly in negotiations," he

. ``I am not a dramatist. The art of persuasion is knowing where the leverage is. ''

Ultimately, Japan’s steel and automobile import quotas

-Japanese automakers just opened stores in the southern United States where there is no union, and robots have reduced the number of workers on the factory floor.

The disagreement between Lighthizer and conservative orthodoxy began in the 1990s, when the Republicans left

And accepted the orthodoxy that globalization and national specialization are beneficial to everyone.

After leaving the government, Lighthizer joined Skadden Arps Meagher & Flom as a

Known for its deep expertise and wit. With the end of the tax revision war, he renewed his focus on trade, representing the benefits of unfair practices such as the coalition of U.S. Steel Corporations collecting government subsidies from foreign competitors. Lighthizer is known as the unofficial king of the "petitioners column," and lawyers debate cases in front of government entities that enforce trade rules. This is hardly a fascinating area. Globally, relocating factories to cheaper regions is quickly becoming the default setting for American companies, and many lawyers are making money to help them do this.

"Bob's message is not the support of large conglomerates," said Terry Stewart, a long-term trade lawyer who worked with Lighthizer. "This has caused the mainstream business community as well as economists and politicians to fail to recognize the challenges that led to the deprivation of blue-collar workers."

The members of the Petitioners Association are often true believers because they are intimate and face severe wage pressure, intellectual property theft and illegal subsidies, which make American factories vulnerable to imports. Lighthizer fought fiercely in the International Trade Commission

The injury suffered in the hands of a foreign steel manufacturer is not only "mental injury", it should entitle his customers to be protected. (Committee


After China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, Lighthizer has become more and more outspoken, which heralds a sharp decline in the number of American manufacturing workers as companies flock to two new factories in Guangzhou and Shenzhen. When Lighthizer testified before the U.S.-China Committee in 2010, he condemned policy makers' “years of negativity and drift” toward China and urged a more positive attitude. in


He wrote some columns, pointing out that Reagan was very willing to set up trade barriers to defend domestic producers.

For Lighthizer, the WTO's problems are personal. In many cases involving subsidy calculations, this multilateral agency has disadvantaged customers in the United States and Skadden. For the petitioner bar, this makes it difficult to establish the WTO Supreme Court of Appeal.

A former official of the Office of the United States Trade Representative said: "The Appellate Body has repeatedly ruled against the United States. This is the main reason Lighthizer is determined to overthrow the WTO."

Although Lighthizer was entangled with the type of chamber of commerce, he made a big splash at the Senate confirmation hearing in March 2017 by promising to vigorously implement the existing trade agreement.

From Arch Free Trader Orrin Hatch and Ohio's Sherrod Brown.

The honeymoon will end soon.

Created by

, The mission of the Office of the United States Trade Representative is clear: if it wants to develop, it is to "develop open and non-discriminatory trade in a free world; and prevent the infiltration of the communist economy."

The law reflects a broad consensus in favor of expanding trade. From the staunchly conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page to senior Democratic advisers, most people believe that the benefits of the open market far outweigh the costs. Those who disagree are seen as xenophobic and sophisticated. Decades later, Donald Trump blamed NAFTA for a series of malpractices-from the rise of automation to the decline of unions-and helped him win traditional democracies such as Michigan and Pennsylvania.

To be fair, under the leadership of President Barack Obama, traditional ideas have begun to shift, and even for free trade advocates, it is becoming more and more obvious that the United States treats international rules to prevent China from flo. And the efforts made by the norms did not work.

Obama spent most of his second term in negotiating trade agreements with 12 other Pacific Rim countries. The idea was to establish a US-centric economic group to counter China's influence and try to sell it to Congress. The "Trans-Pacific Partnership" signifies that it is difficult to reach a consensus with Republican leaders, but the union of labor-oriented progressives and tea party conservatives opposed this view. With trade becoming an urgent issue in the 2016 campaign, even Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate for Obama’s former Secretary of State, was forced to oppose it.

Trump's unexpected victory in the general election had an impact on the entire trade organization. On the second day of the vote, a collection can appeared on the work surface of a coffee shop in Geneva with the slogan "Save America" ​​written on it. She said: "That's really the time, I know this change will be different."

Obama’s trade representative Michael Froman gave an inspiring speech shortly after the election. He recalled the former Assistant Trade Representative for Central and South Asia, Mark Linscott, at the end of 2018 Out of office. Fromman said Trump will bring some good people and ask the staff to give them opportunities. Trump once promised tariffs as a means. Linscott believes that this tool has long been unpopular among mainstream economists, but it may actually break some long-term deadlocks.

Lin Scott said: "It seems that the government is providing new ways to use leverage."

Many staff members are hopeful that Trump will put his mark on the TPP agreement and move on. Instead, Trump withdrew from the deal on the first working day of his administration, shocking USTR officials, who spent years perfecting its intricate details.

A former staff member said: "It's like someone died." He described the mood of the headquarters on that rainy January and Monday.

Negotiations on the other two transactions-a service trade agreement and a broad EU agreement-have reached a deadlock. The staff recalled the briefing by Stephen Vaughn, a former colleague of Lighthizer Law Firm, who was then an agent of the USTR and later became the general counsel. In the briefing, he told the legal team that the WTO will greatly reduce the focus on dispute settlement cases before, and USTR is usually the key way to defend its interests.

A former USTR lawyer recalled: "People left the room in tears." "It felt like the moment when a bomb was dropped."

(Speaking for the USTR, U.S. Deputy Trade Representative CJ Mahoney denied that this happened. "We have never rejected a situation where professionals asked us to file a complaint with the WTO." He said in an interview, and Vaughan said it was. His as well.)

Although Lighthizer is very popular on Capitol Hill, the Senate has been unable to nominate him due to the Democratic Party's barter trade on another issue. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Lighthizer managed trade policy during their absence, and Peter Navarro, a fierce anti-China trade adviser.

Ross used national security trade clauses to try to slow China's steel exports with broad steel and aluminum tariffs. His actions have angered allies such as Canada and the European Union, which will make the work of USTR employees during Trump's term more difficult.

Shortly after confirmation in May, Lighthizer merged control and hired his three Skadden representatives-Jamieson Greer as chief of staff and Jeff Gerrish as the representative. Chief of Staff Pam Marcus (Pam Marcus) is the representative. The loyal supporters of Lighthizer formed a close decision-making department.

An USTR staff member who worked during the transition said: "Lighthizer and his team did not enter as free traders." "And they think, or just know, that most of the civil servants in the Office of the United States Trade Representative work there. Because they believe in free trade. Therefore, people do doubt the civil service because we did not make the kind of advice that Lighthizer wanted to hear."

Mahoney said Lighthizer values ​​professional employees and often praises them in emails throughout the company after the deal is concluded. He said: "Bob's office has always welcomed professional employees,"

However, in the first year and a half, USTR lost more than 20% of its staff, of which 64 left and retired. (Churn continued, but the Office of Personnel Management did not provide the latest figures.) Many people still feel that Lighthizer represents a veteran and has a retrogressive view of how the economy works.

He made some efforts to improve the status of women: three of the six assistant trade representatives he hired were women. But the top leadership of the organization is all men, and some female employees said he dismissed women. Kevin Garvey, the current director general of the Office of the United States Trade Representative, firmly denied it.

Another staff member said: "There is a 75-year-old white cadre in the trade field. They just want to set back time." "They don't understand that the world has changed."

For Trump, relations with other countries usually boil down to who is "winning." In trade, it usually refers to the trade deficit, that is, US exports to a country minus imports. Like his boss, Lighthizer is also concerned about the commodity deficit, because the United States imports far more goods than exports, and he thinks this is a problem. This excludes services, including everything from the billions of financial expertise provided by the United States to tourists and foreign students attending universities here. In this regard, the actual sales of the United States to the rest of the world exceed its purchases.

Americans buy fewer goods from China, while other countries have decreased

The new government has given trade negotiators a new marching order: to minimize imports and maximize exports. A former negotiator remembered her conversation with India when the US service deficit was

There is a shortage of goods than it.

She recalled: “'The things that will help us build relationships will be steps you can take to reduce our existing deficit.'”

. "I have to be honest about it." This is important to them, so let us find ways to cooperate to make a difference in that area. ""

For some time, some staff in the Office of the United States Trade Representative hoped that the zero-sum economy winners and losers approach might solve some difficult problems, even if they are accustomed to considering the broader implications of trade relations with import and export scorecards.

Another recently departed official said: "I quickly realized that this would not work." The official said that the relationship between countries is multi-layered and may involve a variety of mutual support. "When you see an ally become a trade deficit, you know it won't work."

The goods trade deficit continued to increase, while the service trade surplus began to decrease.

The staff of the Office of the United States Trade Representative faced a strange two-fold problem: Their agency had more power than ever before, but did things they usually didn't agree with.

A corporate trade lobbyist said: "There is no doubt that the USTR under the leadership of Lighthizer has regained its momentum, although many lifelong civil servants who have devoted their lives to negotiating trade agreements have swaggered for it. Go in and negotiate with them."

Foreign colleagues in the Office of the United States Trade Representative have also felt the whipping.

"We negotiated the TPP with a big brother, and suddenly, the big brother resigned," said Salvador Behar, Mexico's top negotiator for the TPP. (Afterwards

The participation of other parties has made it impossible for the United States to conclude deals with the privilege of entering its market. )

Some of the USTR negotiators dealing with TPP also participated in the renewal of the North American Free Trade Agreement, but they sang a different tune. "It's a bit like asking vegetarians to sell meat," Bihar said. "Why has the United States, which has always been a promoter of free trade, asked me to close the market and call it free trade?"

For some USTR employees, the pace of work has slowed down. Although Fromman wanted detailed briefing materials, Lighthizer only asked for a two-page memo. While Floman traveled tirelessly and slept on a red-eye flight, Lighthizer had many negotiations in Washington, while he lived in his Georgetown townhouse or commuted to his palm Beach (Palm Beach) seaside apartment.

But the staff never knew what would happen. Trump often fails to notify his tariff declarations, making USTR employees cautious. A former staff member said: "When you receive a call from the private sector asking about what is happening, you have to jokingly say,'I haven't checked Twitter'. This can be a challenge."

.... I am a customs officer. When people or countries raid our country’s great wealth, I hope they will pay for the privilege of doing so. This will always be the best way to maximize our economic strength. We are now imposing billions of dollars in tariffs. Make America rich again

Uncertainty harmed the negotiation. With Trump’s deregulation agenda on everything from financial services to the environment, trade officials trying to maintain parallel provisions in international trade agreements face domestic policies.

A former staff member said: "Our colleagues are more willing to say,'You are returning to the United States, should we continue to raise our standards?'"

Wendy Cutler explained that the lack of high-level support would reduce the leverage of trade negotiators. He worked in the office of the US Trade Representative for nearly 30 years before leaving in 2015.

"Sometimes cabinet officials can't even answer their cabinet members because the president himself made many decisions," said Cutler, who is currently the vice chairman of the Asia Society. "If the other party thinks you can't keep your promise, it will affect your ability to solve the problem."

An example: In 2018, Deputy Trade Representative Mahoney was negotiating with two important trading partners. A professional staff member in the conference room told ProPublica that during the supply-demand dialogue conducted by Mahoney, the order issued by the White House did not actually reach a final agreement. Mahoney dutifully conveyed the message of "accept or leave" to his foreign counterparts, then hung up the phone, upset, and asked: "How can these people believe me to say it again?" The witness said that this person has already Leave the agency.

Mahoney said this statement was "inaccurate", calling the move "constructive negotiation."

Over time, employees began to respect Lighthizer's management of one of his most important components-the president. When the popularity of the USTR increased, Lighthizer knew that avoiding the upgrade of his boss would speed his exit, thus largely avoiding the attention. He also responded to Trump's more extreme trade impulses, such as raising tariffs without warning and threatening to end various alliances and agreements.

"Bob's calling card as a negotiator is consistent," said a long-time steel lawyer who has been working in Lighthizer since the 1980s. "Here is a person with strong calling card consistency who works for a person with strong calling card consistency."

Lighthizer, 73, may retire in 2017 with a pension of up to 15 million US dollars.

Shows his achievements in Washington's career. But Trump provided him with a lifelong dream opportunity: to heal his unhealthy dependence on China.

The previous trade director failed to resolve the issue successfully. The world's second largest economy has become a market system, which is fundamentally different from the capitalist model on which most international trade laws and regulations are based.

The United States had hoped that China would integrate with the free market mainstream when it joined the World Trade Organization in 2000, set low tariffs and allow foreign companies to reach its consumers on an equal footing. However, as the capitalist system was about to collapse, the Chinese moved around during the financial crisis. Back in a managed economy, they provided subsidies for exports, required external companies to enter into joint ventures with Chinese companies, and encouraged widespread piracy of intellectual property.

China's accession to the WTO could have prevented regression, but this requires someone to complain to the agency's dispute settlement mechanism. Over time, smaller countries do not want to contend with regional hegemony, and American companies have become too global to take care of them, so China has never been held accountable.

The former judge of the WTO Appellate Body, Jennifer Hillman, said: "I am trying to prevent China from gaining a foothold for the whole world, and I am condemning the whole world."

In the TPP, the Obama administration negotiated a trade agreement with Pacific Rim countries that is so attractive to China in theory that it will satisfy the agreement's requirements for fair competition so that it can join. At the same time, negotiations on long-term issues such as the entry of US financial services companies into the Chinese market continue.

Independent consultant Jeff Moon said: “People recognize that we have to take a tougher approach to China.” Jeff Moon was a member of the Office of the United States Trade Representative before Trump took office. China's highest official. "That will happen under the leadership of Hillary Clinton. But the biggest difference is that Trump only wants to cooperate with the United States."

The Trump administration’s thinking is: Forming a coalition of nations to put pressure on China will never succeed. "If our standard for doing something is to wait for all our allies to join, we will waste a lot of time and suffer a lot during the transition," Mahoney said.

Lighthizer did not take where Obama left, but ordered

Regarding China’s infringement of intellectual property rights, it can be used to prove the legitimacy of unilateral tariffs in accordance with Article 301 of the Trade Law of 1974


Kathleen Claussen, a former attorney at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, said: "The 301 is a blunt weapon that can achieve goals that may not be achieved through the WTO in this case-to have a significant and rapid impact."

The strategy began a month before Trump and Lighthizer visited Chinese President Xi Jinping in November 2017.

James Green, a senior official in the Office of the United States Trade Representative in Beijing and one of the few Chinese personnel experts, suggested reaching an agreement on previously agreed issues before Trump arrives, allowing Xi Jinping to win domestically. Green said that the Trump administration wants China to "feel pain."

Green said: "I tried to argue internally that the best chance we had to give in was before the president's visit." "That was completely rejected."

In June 2018, Lighthizer announced that it would impose tariffs on approximately US$50 billion worth of Chinese exports. China imposed high tariffs on American agricultural products in retaliation. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has substantially increased tariffs. Until the end of 2019, the U.S. government postponed a new round of consumer goods tariffs, which will take effect before Christmas.

Farmers in Trump's important political constituency are compensated for the lost Chinese market

Subsidies-more than car companies received during the last recession-and there is no obligation to repay the subsidies. However, in the face of higher prices for imported parts, manufacturers have found nothing. that

The industry is in recession-December 2019

It is estimated that tariffs have depressed manufacturing employment in industries where they have fallen the most.

At the same time, the talks proceeded. January, China

In order to respect intellectual property rights, open markets to agricultural products, and obtain licenses from US financial service providers, and at the same time promise to purchase US$200 billion worth of US goods. Although China has promised some of these commitments for years, Mahoney believes that this transaction will not happen if tariffs are not imposed.

He said: "Before the last government meeting, China and China had ten rounds of negotiations on these issues." "The strategy of talking with these people has been tried in two government agencies, and basically no results."

The company is pleased that the "Phase One Agreement" may herald the cessation of hostilities. But only 19% of companies surveyed by the American Chamber of Commerce in China

The transaction is worthy of years of tariff-driven destruction.

The pain on both sides continues. In 2020, agricultural exports to China began to pick up, but

Just like China

Purchase commitment. Neither party has significantly reduced tariffs, while implementing complex exemption procedures. The thorny issue of the Chinese government’s strict control of the economy was postponed to the second phase of negotiations.

Derek Scissors, a Chinese scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, advised Lighthizer, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and other Trump economic teams to use financial sanctions and prohibit certain bad actors—state-owned enterprises and violations of intellectual property rights Protected companies-direct attacks on China's practices. This is better than specific offers for bargaining (for example, requiring China to buy large amounts of soybeans).

"I think that's his opinion," the scissors said of Lighthizer. "This is not the president’s view. So he has to negotiate with the Chinese, he has to negotiate with the president, and besides that, he has made Steve Mnuchin all well, here Settle, sign here, the transaction is complete."

In July, when Trump tried to refocus responsibility for the coronavirus to China, he

The second-stage transaction is unlikely.

Now, by Lighthizer's own standards, the United States has not won the trade war. The trade deficit with China has barely increased, and the trade deficit with other countries such as Vietnam is also expanding, as American companies respond to tariffs by shifting tariff actions to other parts of the region.

Another factor that undermines Lighthizer's method is the currency market, not the Office of the United States Trade Representative, which is the influence of the Treasury Department. Asian countries have

Compared with the U.S. dollar, this makes the goods that the United States tries to sell overseas more expensive and reduces the effectiveness of tariffs.

In September, the WTO Expert Group

Tariffs under the Trade Act of 1974 are illegal. Because Lighthizer's efforts to hinder WTO efforts include preventing the appointment of new judges, the high court that could overturn the appeal ruling no longer functions. The ruling position means that the WTO can authorize China to retaliate. China has done this without authorization. This is another sign that the once strict international trade rules have been replaced by "freedom for all" that each country acts according to its own wishes.

Lighthizer brought another sudden change to USTR: it made it clear that the US business was not his only customer.

When NAFTA was overhauled, this disagreement quickly reached its peak, and Lighthizer adjusted at an alarming rate in order to reach a trade agreement. In order to win the support of Democrats, he proposed to get rid of the investor-state dispute resolution program, which allows companies to sue the government in special courts against laws they consider discriminatory.

This and other issues have angered trade groups, who complain that they need a dispute resolution clause to protect their overseas investments from foreign encroachment. According to emails obtained, in early October 2017, before entering the fourth round of negotiations, Linda Dempsey, Vice President of Government Affairs of the National Association of Manufacturers, held an "emergency" meeting to discuss "U.S. All major economic sectors are increasingly worried.” The "Freedom of Information Act" of the United States Monitoring Organization.

The Chief of Staff of the Office of the United States Trade Representative, Jamieson Greer (Jamieson Greer) refused, suggesting that the company interact with the Industrial and Trade Advisory Committee through scheduled employee briefings. This is a formal way for stakeholders to weigh trade policies. channel. (Under Lighthizer's leadership, some committee members said that these opinions were ignored.)

At the end of that round of talks, Lighthizer held a press conference in the conference room of the solemn white Winder building, which was packed with reporters. One person asked about the objections of the business group, which caused an angry response. The company claimed to love the free market, and Lighthizer jumped up and waved his arms to emphasize himself. However, they do not want to incorporate political risks into their international business decisions, but hope that trade rules can protect them from anything that may go wrong?

"Why is it a good policy for the U.S. government to encourage U.S. investment in Mexico?" Lechzer asked. Finally, he got what he wanted. Most of the dispute settlement provisions have been cancelled.

The North American Free Trade Agreement is not the only problem that keeps business lobbyists out of control. A coalition of ad hoc business organizations sometimes holds daily conference calls around Trump’s decree, including his

All American companies move their supply chains out of China. If Trump actually invoked a law that appears to be based on 1977, the coalition is prepared to file a lawsuit.

Trump did not follow up. But for companies, the bigger problem is that even if USTR does want to act on their behalf, it does not always seek their opinions. For example, in the Chinese negotiations, no one lobbyed for a specific purchase target, which became the biggest selling point of the deal.

Although tariffs are not usually the case, tariffs are not a weapon against other countries because they send a signal to domestic companies: Lighthizer told American companies that investing overseas would not be the obvious choice in the past. past.

James Green, a former Beijing staff member of the U.S. Trade Representative's Office, said: "If that is your goal, I think tariffs have played a magical role." "He asked American companies to consider whether to invest the next dollar in China."

On the other hand, so far, the biggest beneficiaries of the USTR action may be technology companies: since the beginning of their tenure, Google, Amazon and Facebook have hired at least 12 USTR employees, including senior intellectual property experts, and have ensured safety.

Regarding third-party content published on Internet platforms. As iPhone manufacturers lobby for tax exemption, Lighthizer’s calendar shows 15 phone calls and meetings with Apple CEO Tim Cook in 2018 and 2019, more than any other company executive. The letter indicated that some meetings were originally scheduled to be notified in less than a day.

At NAFTA, Lighthizer was willing to tell the conglomerate that his willingness to smash the sand was achieved because of his skilled congressional navigation, and Congress must sign a comprehensive trade agreement. However, Kumbaya’s moment did not extend to Trump’s other narrower bilateral agreements, and Lighthizer skipped lawmakers altogether for this.

"If we are to make meaningful progress, we must make Congress an official participant," said Rep. Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat from Oregon, who chairs the Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee of the House of Representatives. He has not yet sought Congress on small transactions and Lighthizer Approved tariff measures.

However, despite many complaints, lawmakers are still wary of controlling Trump's authority. The Senate Finance Committee has

This would restrict the use of national security to justify tariffs, but the bill did not move forward-partly because lawmakers realized that Trump might not sign the bill.

Of course, Lighthizer knows this.

The House Trade Assistant said: "Through his extensive work, there is a very cruel practical calculation." "If I can't completely overcome these difficulties, will the U.S. Congress stand up and stop us from doing this?"

The pandemic hindered Lighthizer's 2020 plan, but he did not stop his fight for higher tariffs.

In early March, it became clear that many Chinese-made supplies and equipment needed to control and treat infections were subject to tariffs, which triggered an attack on trade protectionism, which is a threat to public health. The Office of the United States Trade Representative exempted some of these products, but Lighthizer has since opposed expanding relief for medical products. At a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee in June, he said he would consider withdrawing from a pharmaceutical agreement that would set the United States at zero tariffs.

Lighthizer said: "As part of the overall plan, I will be more in favor of raising tariffs on what we need to ensure that we have domestic manufacturing capabilities in these areas next time."

Lighthizer also announced that he will seek a broad "reset" of WTO tariffs. After years of negotiation, the highest tariff rates of WTO members are different, and less developed countries usually impose higher tariffs to protect growing industries. The average tariff in the United States is the lowest in the world,

, Because USTR negotiators ask other countries to lower barriers, so they can play a greater role. If they refuse

, And then the Trump administration can raise U.S. tariffs to be on par with the most protectionist countries in the world.

The reset proposal caused shock between Geneva and Washington, which was plagued by the trade war. John Murphy, vice president of international policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said: "The business community is concerned that efforts to reset tariffs will eventually lead to higher tariffs everywhere."

At the same time, Lighthizer's agency has begun to be unstable. Stephen Vaughn, considered a stable influencer, returned to his law firm last year. He gained the trust of Lighthizer and was seen as a channel to the front desk, which convinced professional employees that their suggestions were at least expressed, or even not followed.

Howze in Palestine does not have COVID-19, but the law to protect health providers enacted during the pandemic may derail her family's improper death lawsuit.

Lighthizer's original Skadden team returned to the private clinic earlier this year. In July of this year, Lighthizer tried to bring employees who worked from home during the pandemic back to the office, so employees resisted.

Mahoney said this is optional. ) Lighthizer subsequently ordered that vacancies could no longer be filled from outside the agency, due to Mahoney’s difficulty in interviewing candidates during the pandemic and a rethinking of staffing.

If Joe Biden succeeds Trump, most experts expect to resume a less confrontational trade policy. But they realized that Lighthizer's legacy could not be unraveled quickly or neatly.

"I think Biden will take up a job at a reputable bank," said Sam Dupont, who worked in the agency's digital trade office until he joined the German Marshall Foundation earlier this year. "But, for example, trade relations with Europe are really tense. In order to maintain this good will, many things are in place."

US-China Business Council Chairman Craig Allen (Craig Allen) served as Obama’s ambassador to Brunei, the founding member of the TPP in 2003. By 1850—in the office near the Dupont Circle in Washington.

He remembers that he must tell his diplomatic counterpart that the United States is withdrawing troops from the TPP, and fears that this relationship will never be completely healed.

"It's painful that we didn't give up anything, just thank you very much." Allen continued. "All our negotiating partners are working hard to meet our requirements. It is difficult for them to do so, and we are gone. But we are a democratic country and the ambassador must follow the instructions."

This story was originally forgotten in the year China joined the World Trade Organization. It was 2001, not 2000.

This story initially incorrectly determined the location of the "Save America" ​​collection tank. This jar appeared in a coffee shop in Geneva, not in the Geneva office of the United States Trade Representative's office.

Lydia DePillis covers trade and economy.

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