President-elect Donald Trump bypassed North Carolina’s Dan DiMicco for the U.S. trade representative post Tuesday, nominating former Reagan administration official Robert Lighthizer instead.
DiMicco, the former chief executive of Nucor Corp., America’s largest steel company, was overseeing the Trump transition team’s work on the U.S trade representative’s post and was under consideration for the job.
DiMicco, who lives in Waxhaw, North Carolina, spent nearly an entire day at Trump Tower in New York on Dec. 15. DiMicco’s beliefs on trade appeared to be in sync with Trump. He wrote a book last year, “American Made: Why Making Things Will Return Us to Greatness.”
“It was an honor to be considered for the USTR and to serve as a senior economic adviser to the campaign as well as the lead on the USTR Transition Team which continues for a few more weeks,” DiMicco said in an email to McClatchy. “The Trump trade team and the plan is robust and will forcefully set our trade policies back on the right track.”
He described Lighthizer as “a longtime partner in the trade battles and friend” and called him “a smart choice” for trade representative.
“I chose him to be on the USTR Transition Team just for this reason,” DiMicco said.
DiMicco is regarded as a critic of free-trade policies, which he maintains has cost America millions of manufacturing jobs and shrunk the middle class. He’s been critical of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, which Trump opposes.
But Trump decided on Lighthizer, a trade attorney and former deputy U.S. trade representative under President Ronald Reagan. Like Trump and DiMicco, Lighthizer is a staunch critic of China’s trade practices, saying it hasn’t lived up to commitments made when it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.
“Ambassador Lighthizer is going to do an outstanding job representing the United States as we fight for good trade deals that put the American worker first,” Trump said in a statement. “He has extensive experience striking agreements that protect some of the most important sectors of our economy, and has repeatedly fought in the private sector to prevent bad deals from hurting Americans. He will do an amazing job helping turn around the failed trade policies which have robbed so many Americans of prosperity.”
Trump said that Lighthizer will work closely with Secretary of Commerce-designate Wilbur Ross and Peter Navarro, head of the newly created White House National Trade Council, “to develop and implement policies that shrink our deficit, expand economic growth, strengthen our manufacturing and help stop the exodus of jobs from our shores.”