July 26, 2018 / 3:18 PM / 5 months ago

U.S. trade chief eyes deals on NAFTA, Philippines, sub-Saharan Africa

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer testifies before a Senate Finance Committee hearing on "President Trump's 2018 Trade Policy Agenda" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 22, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Thursday the United States is in the finishing stages of completing a deal to update NAFTA and plans to pursue free trade agreements in sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia and possibly with the Philippines.

Lighthizer, testifying before a U.S. Senate Appropriations subcommittee, said he liked the idea of a trade deal with the Philippines as a “good first agreement” in the region. He said a number of sub-Saharan African countries also would make good candidates for bilateral trade deals.

“We want to have a model agreement. We want to pick someone where there are clear advantages to U.S. manufacturing and agricultural sales and our hope is that most of what is in that model is something we can use with other people,” he said.

Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Dan Grebler

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