Senate confirms Wilbur Ross as USA commerce secretary

Posted March 01, 2017

The Senate approved Ross's nomination by a vote of 72 to 27.

Wilbur Ross, left, is sworn in to be commerce secretary by Vice-President Mike Pence as Ross's wife Hilary Geary Ross holds a bible on Tuesday.

To avoid potential conflicts of interest, Ross has pledged to sell most, though not all, of his empire of financial assets once he's confirmed.

He promised to work quickly to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement between the US, Mexico and Canada, one of President Trump's key campaign promises on his march to the White House.

"I also understand that at the end of the day, each of our trading partners want access to our market".

"I am not anti-trade", he said.

"I am pro-trade, but I am pro sensible trade", he told the Senate.

During Mr Ross's confirmation hearing on January 18th, Republican and Democratic senators appeared impressed by his business experience and knowledge of the issues.

Compared with some of Trump's other Cabinet picks, Ross had his confirmation process move ahead with relative ease. In 2008, amid the USA financial crisis and declining real-estate prices, Ryvolovev purchased Donald Trump's Palm Beach mansion for nearly $100 million, about $60 million more than Trump had paid for the Florida property.

Senators did note that Ross is divesting from much of his business empire.

Ross is a successful investor who made a career out of turning around failing companies. "Freight connections to US ports - which handle some 2 billion tons of goods, support 23 million American jobs and generate $4.6 trillion in economic activity annually - are falling behind 21st century needs, putting jobs at risk and reducing our global competitiveness".

As you might imagine, this whole business came up to no great effect during Ross's confirmation hearings.

"Every investigative reporter in the country right now is trying to figure out whether there is some reason our president appears to feel so beholden to Russian Federation, and to Vladimir Putin".

In mid-February, Trump's national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was forced to resign after it was revealed that he misled Vice President Mike Pence and other administration officials about pre-inauguration discussions he had with the Russian ambassador in Washington about U.S. sanctions against Russia.

But Ross's 2014 investment in the Bank of Cyprus has received little public attention amid the broader concerns in Washington over the Trump administration's potential ties to Russian Federation. The vote is set for Monday evening.