The appointment of Robert Lighthizer as the next United States Trade Representative, by a vote of 82-14, has been widely welcomed by the country’s leading steel trade associations.

Philip K Bell, president of the Steel Manufacturers’ Association (SMA) said that Lighthizer’s appointment was extremely pleasing. “We are excited to work with him on issues such as unfair trade, global steel overcapacity and circumvention of trade duties,” he said.

Bell said that Lighthizer’s prior experience as a Deputy USTR and trade attorney and his reputation as a strong negotiator, make him the right person for the job.

“It is extremely gratifying to have this confirmation [of Lighthizer’s appointment]. SMA members are poised to work with Mr Lighthizer on trade policy and enforcement issues important to 21st Century steelmakers,” Bell concluded.

Similar sentiments were expressed by Thomas J Gibson, president and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI).

“We thank the Senate for confirming Bob Lighthizer, and look forward to working alongside him to combat the critical issues our industry faces like global steel overcapacity and unfair trade,” said Gibson. “Bob’s prior experience at the USTR, on Capitol Hill and as a trade attorney in private practice gives him a unique understanding of how to tackle these issues. AISI and our member companies are grateful to have Bob confirmed and stand ready to work with him on key trade policy issues for steel and manufacturing as a whole.”

Similar views were expressed by the Committee to Support US Trade Laws (CSUSTL). President Tom Sneeringer said it was ‘a very good thing’ that Lighthizer had the job ‘for which he is extremely well qualified’.

“Bob Lighthizer has what the country needs right now” Sneeringer added. “He has a comprehensive grasp of trade law and trade policy, but is also steeped in the intricate processes by which both are established and implemented. He is a bold strategist and a skillful negotiator and we look forward to working with him in any way we can be helpful.”

Roger Schagrin (Schagrin Associates), chairman of the CSUSTL executive committee added, “Given his long experience in the area of international trade, we can think of no one better qualified to carry out President Trump’s trade agenda than Bob Lighthizer. Everyone in American industry, agriculture, and labour unions certainly looks forward to working with him.”

Terence Stewart (Stewart and Stewart), a former CSUSTL president and also a member of the executive committee added, “Bob is the right person at the right time for the important position of US Trade Representative. The country is fortunate that he is willing to serve again.”

Alan Price (Wiley Rein LLP), a former CSUSTL president and a member of the executive committee agreed, describing Lighthizer as ‘an outstanding advocate for American industry and business’. “We congratulate him and look forward to working with USTR as it vigorously pursues America's trade interests,” Price added.

Sneeringer also commented on what he called ‘the excellent job’ done by USTR General Counsel Stephen Vaughn, in serving as Acting USTR while the Lighthizer nomination wound its way through its multiple challenges.

“Stephen Vaughn did us all a great service by providing a smooth transition to the new Administration, getting the new team up and running, pulling together some very important pieces and readying the operation to hit full stride as soon as Lighthizer gets sworn in,” concluded Sneeringer.