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Published: Wed, March 01, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Billionaire investor Wilbur L Ross confirmed as US Commerce Secretary

Billionaire investor Wilbur L Ross confirmed as US Commerce Secretary

The U.S. Senate confirmed Wilbur Ross as secretary of commerce Monday evening by a 72-27 vote. Wicker announced his support for Ross in December, after they met to discuss job creation and economic growth. "He has the business acumen and experience we need to reignite the economy and reaffirm job security after eight years of sluggish growth".

Asked about Trump's threat to impose a 35 percent import tariff on companies that shift jobs overseas, Ross suggested that some of the president's campaign promises should be seen as negotiating tactics, rather than policy pronouncements. Senator Bill Nelson, the ranking Democrat on the panel, called the hearing a "piece of cake" compared with the grilling endured by some of Trump's other cabinet nominees.

Former Commerce secretaries have praised him, including one who served under former President Barack Obama.

"Wilbur Ross is practically a cartoon stereotype of a Wall Street fat cat with no interest in anyone but himself", Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of MA, wrote on Twitter.

Ross' swearing in will take place Tuesday at the White House, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Mr Ross will maintain a minority stake he holds in a company backed by the Chinese Government, creating another potential conflict of interest.

At his confirmation hearing, Ross was not asked about business ties to Russian Federation or his work as a mortgage lender, and he did not address the issues.

Breaking with Republican orthodoxy, Ross said the Trump administration will work quickly to redo the North American Free Trade Agreement. As part of his ethics agreement, Ross will divest from the firm.

U.S. President Donald Trump now has a commerce secretary.

In his new role, Wilbur Ross will be among those leading a potential free-trade deal between the U.S. and the United Kingdom - although his comments sparked fears America will seek to exploit the uncertainty created by Brexit to win business.

In 2000 Ross founded private equity firm WL Ross & Co, and is now worth approximately $2.9bn.

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