Wilbur Ross, the billionaire investor who is Donald Trump’s pick to be Commerce Secretary, advocated for the Trans-Pacific Partnership in television appearances this year.
CNN’s KFile previously reported that Ross signed on to a letter urging New York’s Congressional delegation to support the trade agreement. Ross has become a vocal critic of trade deals in recent months. In a TV appearance last Wednesday, he called TPP a “horrible deal.” Trump made criticizing TPP and past trade deals a staple of his presidential campaign platform.
A representative for Ross declined to comment. The Trump transition team did not return a request for comment.
“Well, I don’t agree with him on — on his decision on the TPP,” Ross said during a May 2016 appearance on Bloomberg TV. “I like the TPP. But I think also the rhetoric that everybody has in campaigns is usually quite a bit different from what comes out of the Washington negotiations. So I think you have to take a lot of what politicians say as rhetorical and directional rather than specific.”
Later, Ross added he didn’t entirely disagree with Trump on trade, saying trade deals do need to be stronger for the United States. He said there was no candidate he agreed with completely.
“I agree with him that our trade agreements need to be more muscular than some of them have been. We have made some mistakes in the past,” he said.
He continued, “So it isn’t that he’s wrong about trade altogether, we do have some trade problems. In fact, there’s — we have a huge trade deficit. Question is: how do you deal with it? And I think there are many ways to deal with it. So, there’s no candidate I’ve ever supported that I agreed with everything he or she said.”
In another television appearance this year on Fox Business, Ross argued TPP would isolate China economically.
“China is no longer the world’s cheapest place to manufacture, and they could be heading for some difficulties if the Trans-Pacific Partnership gets approved,” he said in August 2015. “If it does, they’ll remain outside the roughly 15% trade barrier to the U.S. whereas Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia will all be inside. Same thing vis-a-vis Japan.”