Advertisement

Senate confirms Wilbur Ross as commerce secretary

By Andrew V. Pestano
Senate confirms Wilbur Ross as commerce secretary
Billionaire businessman and former banker Wilbur Ross was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Monday with a 72-27 vote. One of his top priorities as the head of the U.S. Department of Commerce will be to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. File Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 28 (UPI) -- The Senate confirmed billionaire Wilbur Ross Jr., a former investor who aims to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, as secretary of commerce.

The Senate confirmed Ross with a 72-27 vote Monday. His top priority is expected be renegotiating NAFTA -- a Trump campaign pledge. During his confirmation hearings in January, he said "all aspects" of NAFTA could be renegotiated.

Advertisement

Ross has already been advising President Donald Trump on economic policy and on rewriting the tax code, which Trump vowed to simplify.

Ross is worth an estimated $2.5 billion, Forbes reported. He owns a home near Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla.

Ross made billions restructuring failed companies, often with layoffs and budget reductions. Ross helped Trump resurrect his casino company after bankruptcy in the early 1990s. He has been opposed to free trade agreements.

RELATED House intelligence leader, White House say no proof of talks with Russia

RELATED Poll: Americans split over NAFTA's effect on U.S.

NAFTA was signed by President Bill Clinton and ratified by both houses of Congress in 1993. It went into effect the next year, liberalizing trade among the three North American countries: Mexico, Canada and the United States. The trade agreement reduced or eliminated tariffs on most products, creating one of the world's largest free trade zones, and aimed to help small businesses by lowering costs and reducing bureaucracy in trade.

Advertisement

In 2015, the U.S. Congressional Research Service said NAFTA's effects were neither damaging nor helpful.

"In reality, NAFTA did not cause the huge job losses feared by the critics or the large economic gains predicted by supporters," the independent report said. "The net overall effect of NAFTA on the U.S. economy appears to have been relatively modest, primarily because trade with Canada and Mexico accounts for a small percentage of U.S. GDP."

RELATED Trump to health insurance CEOs: Market will stabilize

Latest Headlines

Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us

Advertisement