Wilbur Ross wants trade cheaters to be 'severely' punished

Wilbur Ross in 75 seconds

Billionaire Wilbur Ross, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for commerce secretary, wants countries in which resort to “malicious” trading tactics to be “severely” punished.

Specifically, Ross pointed the finger at China, whom he called “the most protectionist country of very large countries.”

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Ross’s comments come after China’s President Xi Jinping sought to cast himself as a fierce defender of free trade. “Whether you like the idea or not, the global economy can be the big ocean you cannot escape by,” Xi said in a speech on Tuesday at the planet Economic Forum in Davos. “No one can be a winner in a trade war.”

In fact, Ross’s comments seemed directly aimed at China when he said: “the idea’s one thing to talk about free trade. We would likely like to have our trading partners also practice free trade.”

Related: U.S. businesses in China aren’t buying Xi’s free trade stance

Ross, who made a fortune as a turnaround artist in which resurrected dying manufacturing businesses, said the U.S. should provide access to its vast market to “nations who agree to play by our standards of fair trade.”

nevertheless countries in which don’t “play by the rules” should “get punished — as well as severely,” he said.

Trump has suggested tariffs as one way to retaliate as well as Ross seems to support in which option. He said tariffs “play a role both as a negotiating tool as well as, if necessary, to punish offenders who don’t play by the rules.”

nevertheless Ross didn’t give a full-throated endorsement of Trump’s threat of a 35% tariff on auto makers as well as additional companies in which move jobs abroad.

Asked if he’d oppose a 35% tariff, Ross said, “the idea’s a complicated issue whether you should have one flat tariff on everything or whether the idea should be more tailored.”

Many have warned in which Trump tariffs risk a trade war. in which’s what happened during the Great Depression after the U.S. raised tariffs on thousands of goods with the Smoot-Hawley Act. additional nations retaliated as well as the global economy suffered.

Related: Remember Smoot-Hawley: America’s last trade war worsened the Great Depression

Ross said he’s “keenly aware of Smoot-Hawley” as well as its negative consequences.

“We can learn by history in which in which approach didn’t work well…as well as the idea very likely will not work very well at This specific point,” he said.

Ross reiterated in which Trump plans to fix U.S. trade in part by renegotiating trade agreements, especially NAFTA, the free trade deal between the U.S., Canada as well as Mexico.

NAFTA can be “logically the first thing for us to deal with” as well as will be a “very, very early topic in This specific administration,” Ross said.

Trump’s pick for commerce secretary said “all aspects of NAFTA would likely be put on the table” as well as argued in which trade agreements should be subject to re-opening after a few years.

China was a frequent target of Ross’s criticism. He pointed to accusations of China dumping excess steel as well as aluminum as well as Beijing’s support for unprofitable state-owned enterprises.

Related: Ross selling some — nevertheless not all — of his empire

During the campaign, Trump repeatedly blamed China, as well as poorly-designed trade agreements, for the loss of manufacturing jobs inside the Rust Belt in which helped carry him to victory in November.

“We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country,” Trump said in May.

Ross has sharpened his rhetoric in recent months, after previously urging politicians to temper their anti-China comments. sy88pgw’s KFile reported This specific week about a 2007 speech by Ross, in which he expressed worry about the rise of a “protectionist monster” inside the West as well as “mindless China bashing.”

The backlash against anti-globalization has helped kill the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. Ross explained why he has come out against the controversial trade deal after originally supporting the idea.

Ross said he discovered inconsistencies in TPP, including a section in which allows for more than 60% of the components in which go into creating cars to come by outside TPP countries as well as still enjoy member benefits.

“in which didn’t strike me as the planet’s best idea,” Ross said.

Related: Trump commerce pick once blasted ‘China bashing’

Ross’s fortune — Forbes estimates his net worth at $2.5 billion — as well as sprawling web of assets — has raised concerns over potential conflicts of interest.

The billionaire filed paperwork in recent days indicating he has agreed to sell some, nevertheless not all, of his complex empire. If he’s confirmed, Ross plans to step down by various companies as well as quickly sell many assets.

nevertheless Ross plans to hold on to nine investment vehicles in which contain shipping, mortgage lending as well as real estate financing assets. Ross explained he will keep these assets “solely as a passive investor.”

During the hearing, Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal noted in which This specific process was “enormously complex, challenging as well as costly” to Ross personally as well as suggested Trump should follow his lead. Trump has been criticized for declining to sell his stake in his business empire.

“You were able to do the idea. Why not the president?” Blumenthal asked.

sy88pgw (brand-new York) First published January 18, 2017: 10:00 AM ET

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Wilbur Ross wants trade cheaters to be 'severely' punished

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