Robert Lighthizer is new US Trade Representative

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Cory Gardner, meanwhile - one of just three from his party to oppose Robert Lighthizer's confirmation - said he voted against the nominee because "his policies could hurt Colorado's farmers and ranchers".

Those Democrats were joined by 45 Republicans who voted for Mr Robert Lighthizer in a rare bipartisan moment a day after Democrats demanded an independent criminal investigation of Mr Trump's 2016 campaign after he fired Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey.

As the nomination was finally approved, trade negotiations under Trump's "America first" policy are set to shift into high gear. "If not, the conditions aren't there to negotiate", he said.

"We all know that China is not a free trader, that's the reality", he said. During an interview with the Economist on Thursday local time, Trump called the Korea-U.S. FTA "a frightful deal" that was made by Hillary Clinton.

Trump has called NAFTA a disaster for American workers and also criticised the big annual U.S. trade deficits with Mexico that have stemmed from that agreement. "To that end, we also encourage him to quickly name a new U.S. Agricultural Trade Ambassador to represent agricultural interests in the upcoming re-negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement and trade negotiations with Asia-Pacific nations".

Lighthizer overcame a last-minute push by two Republican senators, John McCain and Ben Sasse, to block his confirmation. He is credited with having Japan introduce a self-imposed ceiling on its steel exports to the United States.

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The minister said expanding bilateral commerce, not restricting it, was key to reducing the U.S. -Mexico trade deficit.

His biggest critics were two arch supporters of NAFTA and other trade deals, Republican Sens. "We will continue to urge USTR to focus on protecting Mexico, our No. 1 market, insist that Canada revoke its detrimental new milk pricing policy, and pursue additional export opportunities around the world".

Only 11 Democrats voted against Mr Lighthizer, nearly all of whom are considered future presidential candidates or among the most liberal.

Trump tapped Lighthizer for the position in January, but the lawyer's confirmation was delayed by questions from lawmakers over work he did decades ago on behalf of foreign governments, for which he had to get a legal waiver. Lighthizer, 69, once served as a deputy trade representative under President Reagan and has had a long career representing US steel companies pursuing remedies for trade violations by foreign competitors.

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

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