Wilbur ‘Killer’ Ross Isn’t Worried About the Trade Wars



Devin Leonard and Jenny Leonard | Bloomberg

One morning in October, a smiling Wilbur Ross, President Trump’s commerce secretary and most visible trade warrior, enters the lobby of an Embassy Suites hotel in Washington. Clad in a blue suit, white shirt, and red tie, which upon closer inspection turns out to be decorated with tiny beavers, Ross greets members of a national association of business leaders who’ve been enlisted by the department to help promote exports of American goods. They’re eager to have their picture taken with him. Then it’s downstairs to a ballroom, where Ross will do some promoting himself—in this case, of the president’s trade policies—as the keynote speaker at the association’s yearly export symposium.

At 80, the diminutive Ross isn’t exactly gladiatorial. His head hangs at about 11 o’clock. He speaks in a soft, cooing voice. When he talks about the administration’s “America First” trade policies, his patrician demeanor and slow, methodical delivery make him sound much less aggrieved and vindictive than when the president himself articulates them. Standing at the podium before an audience of about 100 people, Ross acknowledges that there’s been some “nail-biting” on the part of his listeners over Trump’s decision to impose billions of dollars of tariffs on foreign goods, mainly from China, to say nothing of his inflammatory words about U.S. trading partners. As a result, many of these exporters now have to deal with retaliatory tariffs on their products in other countries. Ross assures them they have nothing to fear. “As you can remember, I suggested, don’t judge the president by his tactics,” he says. “Judge him by his results. And I think it’s becoming increasingly clear that his trade policies are working very well.” Ross notes that the U.S. recently struck a new agreement with Mexico and Canada that will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. “Nafta, rest in peace,” he says, drolly. “Bless your soul.” He raises his left hand as if to offer a priestly benediction. Now, Ross says, leaders of other countries are coming to the table to negotiate new deals and join the U.S. in its campaign to stop what he describes as the “evil practices of China.” Read more here