Trump picks ‘King of Bankruptcy’ for Commerce
Wilbur Ross, President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for Commerce Secretary, arrives at Trump Tower, November 29, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP
US President-elect Donald Trump picked an investor with such a history of investing in dying industries that he was known as the “King of Bankruptcy” to head the Commerce Department.
Wilbur Ross, a billionaire known for taking over ailing steel and coal companies and selling them for profit, will help handle trade disputes with countries like China, including complaints about the dumping of cheap metals into the US market.
Ross, whose fortune is estimated at $2.9 billion, agrees with Trump in the need for Washington to pull out of bad trade agreements and has advocated steep tariffs on Chinese imports.
Among his signature investments was the purchase of Pennsylvania’s iconic but now-defunct Bethlehem Steel, a deal which was hailed by unions for saving manufacturing jobs.
He also took on Burlington Industries, the centerpiece of North Carolina’s once-thriving textile industry.
Since then, however, many steel mills have shut down amid a glut of foreign production, much of it in China, and US textiles have been gutted faced with competition from mills in Latin American and Asia, where labor is cheap.
Ross is a graduate of Yale and Harvard Business School, and chairman of private equity firm WL Ross & Company. He also owns a waterfront estate in Palm Beach, Florida, down the road from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago golf club and resort.
As with all of the president-elect’s cabinet nominations, Ross’ appointment will be subject to Senate confirmation.
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