Trump Taps Wilbur Ross as Commerce Secretary

Billionaire investor is a frequent critic of free trade agreements

Wilbur Ross, President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for Commerce Secretary, wears a “Make America Great Again” hat as he speaks to reporters at Trump Tower on Tuesday. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday said he would nominate billionaire investor Wilbur Ross to be his secretary of Commerce. 

Like Trump, Ross is a frequent critic of the North American Free Trade Agreement and has blamed it for jobs going to Mexico.

Ross also runs the private equity firm W.L. Ross & Co. and, according to Forbes, has a net worth of $2.9 billion. Ross also worked with Trump to help restructure the debt for Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

“Wilbur knows that cutting taxes for working families, reducing burdonsome government regulations and unleashing America’s energy resources will strengthen our economy at a time when our country needs to see significant growth,” Trump said in a statement.

Ross has a history of reviving dying companies, some in industries that Trump wants to make great again like steel and coal, CNNMoney reported.

He also sits on the board of directors of steel company Arcelor Mittal.

Philip K. Bell, president of the Steel Manufacturers Association, applauded the nomination.

“He is a strong choice to head an agency that is extremely important to 21st century steelmakers,” Bell said in a statement to CQ. “Commerce has a critical role to play in enforcing our nation’s trade laws, including full implementation of legislation passed during the 114th Congress.”

Bell is referring to the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, customs enforcement legislation signed into law earlier this year.

He added, “this will have a significant impact on pending trade cases and addressing the flow of unfairly traded steel imports, as our government continues to confront the global steel overcapacity problem.” 

Ross has faced a number of legal troubles in recent years, most recently when his firm paid a $2.3 million fine in August for not disclosing fees it charged investors.

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