President-elect Trump has named a Washington lawyer with a trade protectionist record to be the nation’s chief trade negotiator. Robert Lighthizer, a native of Ohio, a large manufacturing state, sends a message that Trump is serious about pursuing trade agreements that support his made-in America priorities.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, was cautious in his appraisal of Lighthizer’s appointment. “As the world and our economic competitors move forward to expand their global footprints, we can’t afford to be left behind in securing strong deals that will increase our access to new markets for American-made products and services,” Hatch said.
The impact of the Trump administration’s policies—including perhaps import taxes on goods made outside the U.S—on hosiery and textile companies could be significant. However some Democrats from manufacturing states have indicated support for restrictions on imported goods.
Two decades ago congressional approval of NAFTA and later CAFTA sharply divided the hosiery and textiles manufacturers. Large companies, pushed by their national retailer customers, supported the open borders agreements. Scores of family-owned companies, unable to compete with low wages and fewer regulations in offshore locations, closed their doors.