U.S. trade chief will skip Berlin G20 steel summit: USTR

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer addresses the media to close the second round of NAFTA talks involving the United States, Mexico and Canada at Secretary of Economy headquarters in Mexico City, Mexico, September 5, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will not attend a G20 steel summit in Berlin on Thursday aimed at curbing excess global steel production capacity and instead will send his chief of staff, Jamieson Greer, a USTR spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

It was unclear how many minister-level officials would be at the event but the Trump administration has sought to deemphasize multilateral trade negotiations in favor of bilateral trade deals.

Greer is a former trade lawyer with extensive experience in areas such as trade remedy litigation and World Trade Organization dispute settlement, according to a biography on the USTR website.

“As chief of staff, he is the chief operating officer of the agency and advises the USTR on all aspects of the agency mission,” the bio reads.

German Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries told Reuters on Monday she hoped the Berlin steel summit could help avert a trade war and warned that the European Union would retaliate if the United States imposed new steel import tariffs.

The U.S. Commerce Department has been conducting an investigation into whether steel imports threaten U.S. national security and broad import restrictions should be imposed.

Recommendations from the probe have been delayed due to tax legislation in Congress but are due to be unveiled by late January.

Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Andrew Hay