IL Corn joins 138 food and agriculture trade associations and companies in congratulating Robert Lighthizer on his Senate confirmation as the U.S. trade representative (USTR). The coalition of groups, which includes the National Corn Growers Association, has worked collectively for some time to encourage this confirmation. The full Senate’s vote comes following a 26-0 vote on April 25 by the Senate Finance Committee to recommend Lighthizer’s confirmation to the full Senate. The timing is not insignificant, as May is world trade month. More corn is sent out of Illinois for other markets than from any other state. We thank Senators Duckworth and Durbin for the “yea” votes in support of Mr. Lighthizer.
In their letter sent to Senators in late April, the previously mentioned organizations cited the central role that the USTR plays under U.S. law in developing and coordinating U.S. international trade policy and leading trade negotiations with other countries. They noted that action on Lighthizer’s confirmation is “particularly urgent” given the administration’s plans to notify Congress soon of its intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
The letter, organized as part of the ongoing work of the U.S. Food and Agriculture Dialogue for Trade, emphasized that Lighthizer’s confirmation is an “essential step” in enabling the U.S. government to put its teams in place to engage in trade negotiations on NAFTA and with Asia-Pacific nations “to further enhance U.S. economic growth and job creation,” specifically.
With Lighthizer in place as USTR, the groups reiterated their desire to work with Lighthizer and other administration officials and Congress to “develop and implement a coherent and effective U.S. trade policy that continues to promote America’s food and agriculture producers and exporters.” IL Corn echoes this desire as we know that exports are directly important to Illinois corn farmers, with nearly 40% of our corn crop leaving the State, bound for other domestic or foreign markets.