Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross has been highly touted as a favorite to be appointed Commerce Secretary in the incoming President-elect Donald Trump administration. The private-equity hedge fund manager has been a close economic adviser to Trump.
On Nov. 15, hedge fund manager and Trump adviser Carl Icahn announced that Ross was in contention for Commerce Secretary while former Goldman Sachs partner Steven Mnuchin was in the running for Treasury Secretary, Politico reports.
“Spoke to @realDonaldTrump,” Icahn tweeted out. “Steve Mnuchin and Wilbur Ross are being considered for Treasury and Commerce. Both would be great choices."
Former Nucor Corp CEO Dan DiMicco is also being considered for Commerce Secretary or U.S. Trade Representative.
78-year-old Ross had counseled Trump during the 2016 presidential race and is an outspoken critic of previous U.S. trade deals. He helped write Trump’s plan for his first 100 days in office.
If appointed Commerce Secretary, Ross would manage U.S. trade remedy laws, the Patent and Trademark Office, and the U.S. Census Bureau.
On Nov. 9, Ross downplayed concerns that Trump’s campaign promise to impose stiff tariffs on China would result in a trade war, asserting that the business mogul’s pledge to impose a 45 percent tariff on the Communist nation in his first day in office was not literal.
“Everybody says, oh he’s going to slap 45 percent tariff on everything out of China,” Ross told Yahoo! Finance. “What he actually said was if — if it turns out that the Chinese yuan is 45 percent overvalued, or as much as 45, and if they won’t negotiate with us, then it may become necessary as a negotiating measure to threaten them with as much as a 45 percent tariff.”
Chinese media has already warned that if Trump is aggressive toward them economically, then they will retaliate by punishing U.S. businesses that rely on their manufacturing, The Verge reports.
Ross has a bullish view on trade deals, suggesting that all future U.S. trade include safeguards that would allow for renegotiations, sanctions against currency manipulation and bans on intellectual property theft.
On Nov. 15, Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts blasted Trump for appointing lobbyists to his transition team and for considering billionaires and Wall Street titans like Ross and Mnuchin to cabinet positions.
“I think that the clearest point that comes out of this election is that the American people do not want Wall Street to run their government,” Warren told The Wall Street Journal. “They do not want corporate executives to be the ones who are calling the shots in Washington. What Donald Trump is doing is that he’s putting together and transition team that’s full of lobbyists — the kind of people he actually ran against.”