Senate confirms Wilbur Ross as Trump's Secretary of Commerce

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The U.S. Senate confirmed Wilbur Ross as secretary of commerce Monday evening by a 72-27 vote.

As secretary of commerce, the 79-year-old will have a heavy hand in negotiating trade deals, as well as renegotiating the agreements Trump railed against during the campaign, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement.

With today's global marketplace and worldwide supply chain, American manufacturers, farmers and businesses rely on ports more than ever to handle the raw materials and semi-finished components needed for production here in the US, and to be able to export their products and enhance their international competitiveness.

During Mr Ross's confirmation hearing on January 18th, Republican and Democratic senators appeared impressed by his business experience and knowledge of the issues. Ross has been advising Trump on economic matters before the confirmation vote took place.

Mr Ross had also been asked to provide more details about his own relationship with previous and current Russian investors in the bank, including Viktor Vekselberg, a longtime ally of the Russian president, and Vladimir Strzhalkovsky, the former vice-chairman of Bank of Cyprus who is also a former KGB agent with a close relationship to Mr Putin.

Ross has defended his job creation record.

"NAFTA is logically is the first thing for us to deal with", Ross said at the hearing.

He also said International Textile Group "would have had to shut down far more domestic activities" if it hadn't moved some operations overseas.

Forbes estimate Ross' net worth at $2.5 billion.

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.

"Exactly. And we oughta let them know we're gonna start playing the same game", Ross replied.

Ross will divest from the private equity firm he founded, WL Ross & Co., as part of his ethics agreement upon entering government service.

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