Mexico warns US of alternatives on trade, points to China

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U.S. President Donald Trump once again strongly voiced his desire to renegotiate the Korea-U.S. But in spite of the potential legal landfalls, the Senate decided that it was high time to install the chief US trade representative, and confirmed Lighthizer by a landslide.

Thursday's vote was important because Congress had required the Trump administration to have a confirmed trade representative before launching talks on re-negotiating NAFTA, which was signed by the US, Mexico and Canada in 1992 and took effect in 1994.

The office of USTR is responsible for developing and overseeing U.S. trade policy, including strategy, negotiation, implementation and enforcement of multilateral, regional/bilateral and sector-specific trade agreements. Robert Lighthizer has become Washington's top trade negotiator after the Senate voted 82 to 14 in favor of his nomination.

"We welcome Mr. Lighthizer's confirmation because of his grasp of global trade rules and understanding of the importance of balanced trade agreements to the USA dairy sector", said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. Mexico runs a sizeable trade deficit with China, the destination of about 10 percent of its exports. And Peter Navarro, a vociferous critic of China, is advising the White House on trade. During his confirmation hearing in March, Lighthizer said he previously believed China "was a substantial currency manipulator", but whether it still is "is another question".

A staunch opponent of Trump on nearly every issue, Peters embraced Lighthizer's criticism of the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement and his more skeptical views toward multilateral trade deals of the past. South Korea and the US enacted the bilateral trade deal in 2012 after years of grueling negotiations. In 2008, he wrote a column in The New York Times criticizing McCain, then the Republican presidential candidate, for his unstinting support of free trade.

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Two Republican senators said late Wednesday they would oppose Lighthizer. Sen.

A former Reagan trade adviser and corporate lawyer, Lighthizer is highly respected in the trade world.

Guajardo did not give details of what trip to China in September he was referring to, but the diplomat said it was to the CIFIT summit in Xiamen.

While Mexico and Canada helped change Trump's mind, so did members of his cabinet, US lawmakers and USA producers that would be hurt by a US exit from NAFTA - showing the limits to Trump's unilateral moves, the minister argued.

Under Lighthizer, Wolff says, "trade policy is going to get a lot more muscular".