Alabama business leaders meet with Ambassador Lighthizer, key trade official

Alabama business leaders meet with Ambassador Lighthizer, key trade official
Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, right foreground, the U.S. Trade Representative, meets with Alabama officials and business leaders to hear their thoughts on trade and communicate the Trump Administration's trade priorities. (contributed)

Gov. Kay Ivey and a group of Alabama industrial leaders hosted Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. trade representative, for a high-level discussion of the Trump administration’s trade and economic growth policies.

Lighthizer shared details about trade goals and heard from the Alabama business delegation during an hourlong event featuring a roundtable discussion at the Mercedes-Benz U.S. International Visitor Center.

“Ambassador Lighthizer provided valuable insights about how the administration is moving to return manufacturing to the U.S. and create middle-class jobs across the nation,” Ivey said.

“He has been a fierce advocate for Alabama over the past three years, and it was beneficial for our business leaders to exchange ideas with him.”

Creating jobs

As the U.S. trade representative since 2017, Lighthizer is the federal government’s top trade negotiator.

Gov. Kay Ivey exchanges a fist bump with Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. Trade Representative, while Mike Göbel of Mercedes-Benz’s Alabama operation looks on. Lighthizer met with a group of Alabama industrial leaders at the Mercedes complex on Friday. (Hal Yeager/Governor’s Office)

Before joining the Trump administration, he practiced international trade law for 30 years. During that time, he was lead counsel for scores of trade enforcement cases and became a prominent advocate for the type of trade policies supported by the president.

Lighthizer was the deputy U.S trade representative for President Ronald Reagan, negotiating more than two dozen bilateral international agreements, including agreements on steel, automobiles and agricultural products.

“I want to thank Gov. Ivey for her hospitality and for working so closely with President Trump to keep his promises to the people of Alabama and all Americans,” Lighthizer said.

“The president is committed to creating more manufacturing jobs, particularly in the auto sector, which will benefit American workers for generations to come.”

Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, moderated the roundtable discussion, which focused on topics such as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the Phase I China trade deal and other trade pacts under negotiation.

“Today’s discussion was a great opportunity for a representative group of Alabama’s industrial leaders to share their thoughts about how trade policies affect their operations and how we can all work together to increase prosperity here at home,” Canfield said.

Participating in the event were leaders of several major Alabama manufacturers: Mike Göbel of MBUSI, Mike Oatridge of Honda, Robert Burns of Hyundai, Masa Aihara of Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, Charles Greene of the AM/NS Calvert steel mill, Daryl Taylor of Airbus and Lee Styslinger III of Altec.

John Driscoll of the Alabama Port Authority, which manages the state’s only deep-water port, and Mark Crosswhite of Alabama Power, the state’s largest electric utility, took part in the event.

This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.

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