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America is the first country in history to fund the rise of its rivals. We need to stop now, before it’s too late.
One of the most consequential U.S. Trade Representatives in our history, Robert Lighthizer led a great reset of American trade policy that has endured across Administrations. For more than 40 years, he litigated, negotiated, and editorialized against the failed policies of one-sided free trade as part of both the Reagan and Trump administrations and as a private lawyer. As Trade Representative, he fought against globalists, importers, lobbyists, foreign governments and big businesses whose interests diverged from those of the American workers.
For decades, unbalanced “free” trade was the preferred option for the most powerful in Washington, and millions of ordinary Americans paid the price. Instead of prioritizing healthy American communities, good jobs, higher wages, and a promising future for our workers, Washington too often cared more about corporate profits, cheap imports and the concerns of foreign governments, including the Chinese. In return, we got cheaper coffee makers and tee shirts, while thousands of factories closed, wages stagnated, communities deteriorated, economic inequality rose in our country, and we racked up trillions of dollars in trade deficits.
Part memoir, part history, and part policy analysis, No Trade is Free tells the story of how America found itself at this point and how the Trump administration took on the orthodoxy of the trade establishment, with astonishing results. With in-depth character sketches of some of the most important leaders of our time—from Donald Trump, to Xi Jinping, to Nancy Pelosi, to Andrés Manuel López Obrador—Lighthizer explains how trade negotiations actually work and why leverage is the key to success—no trade is free.
This book is a wake-up call to our politicians, thought leaders, but most importantly, everyday Americans. It presents the case against the policies that have weakened America and left our families and communities behind. It argues for a worker-focused trade policy. It tells the story of our fight for every American job and how for the first time, a US administration took on China. But most importantly, it is a guide to the new world economy—one which will require a worker-focused trade policy.
Robert Lighthizer served in President Trump’s cabinet as the United States Trade Representative from 2017 to 2021 and was a deputy USTR under President Reagan. He is one of America’s most respected experts on international trade, having negotiated dozens of international agreements and practiced trade law for more than forty years. Lighthizer was born in Ohio and now lives in Palm Beach, Florida.
"No Trade is Free is a masterpiece that describes how my Administration stood up to China and fought back against the Globalists and Communists that have been ripping off American workers for decades." — Donald Trump
“Bob Lighthizer is the best in the business. He completely transformed the paradigm on trade, changing the course of American history. If our leaders apply the lessons in this book, America can still have a prosperous future.” — Larry Kudlow, former director of the National Economic Council and host of Kudlow on the Fox Business Network
“Over Bob Lighthizer’s decades-long career in public policy, he helped reset the direction of US trade policy and advanced the commonsense, realistic approach: recognizing that ‘no trade is free.’ His book exposes the ideological fault lines that subjected too many workers to the ravages of a naive view that free trade was a reality rather than an outdated theory. This book is a must-read for those seeking a better understanding of how we got to where we are, and how we can chart the path forward.” — Tom Conway, president of the United Steelworkers
“In the wake of heightened geopolitical rivalries and worsening inequality, America is reorienting its trade policy to align with its strategic priorities. Anyone interested in understanding what unfolded in the Trump administration and the debates that lie ahead ought to read this book. Bob Lighthizer continues to challenge us to reconsider why we trade and what we hope to gain from it.” — Mark Wu, professor of law, Harvard University
“For decades, Washington gave China concessions even while they grew more powerful and more hostile to our interests. No Trade Is Free is the story of how Bob Lighthizer and the Trump administration brought common sense back to the negotiating table.” — Marco Rubio, United States senator
“This book is destined to be a historic masterpiece. It is an eyewitness account of a lifetime focused on better trade deals. The details of the most significant US-Chinese negotiations since Nixon met with Mao will make this riveting story a bestseller.” — Michael Pillsbury, senior fellow for China strategy at the Heritage Foundation and author of the national number one bestseller The Hundred-Year Marathon
“Bob Lighthizer reopens a question forbidden in Washington for decades: Just how costly is free trade? His answer reveals defects in the entire project of globalization and lets us glimpse a path beyond it.” — Peter Thiel, entrepreneur, cofounder of PayPal, and author of the number one New York Times bestseller Zero to One
“The author is a wise man whose advice we would do well to heed. Bob Lighthizer educated me on trade and economic policy during long flights on Air Force One. Now, in No Trade Is Free, what he taught me is accessible to all.” — Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster, former national security advisor and author of Battlegrounds
"Lighthizer delivers a compelling case—which even seminal pro-trade economists like David Ricardo understood—when he argues that fully open trade works to everyone’s benefit only when it is balanced, when participating nations observe the rules, and labor and capital operate together." — Foreign Policy
"No Trade Is Free is an accessible and readable chronicle of US trade history and policy over the past half-century."
— The Guardian