LIGHTHIZER: TRUMP’S TRADE POLICY DEFENDER-IN-CHIEF: The U.S. trade chief spent a significant portion of his eight-hour day on Capitol Hill trying to quell lawmakers’ concerns over the “phase one” China deal — including what it did and didn’t include, and China’s ability to meet its agricultural commitments.
That messaging was largely derailed when, in the middle of his hearings, excerpts were released from the forthcoming book by former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who wrote that Trump pleaded with Chinese President Xi Jinping to make more agricultural purchases to help boost his shot at reelection come November.
USTR says it didn’t happen: Lighthizer, who attended the meeting with Xi, denied that the plea was made when asked multiple times about Bolton’s allegation during a Senate Finance hearing on the president’s 2020 trade agenda. “I don’t believe it ever happened. … Would I have recollected something as crazy as that? Of course, I would recollect it,” he said.
LIGHTHIZER TALKS WTO, TARIFFS, GLOBAL TENSIONS: Lighthizer laid out the administration’s vision on a range of trade issues — from the future of the WTO to implementation of the USMCA — as it enters the last seven months of Trump’s first term. That agenda still includes tariffs and global tensions. Lighthizer also poured water on the idea of negotiating new international agreements to eliminate tariffs on personal protective equipment and pharmaceuticals following the pandemic.
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