Trump's trade czar Ross easily wins Senate confirmation

President Donald Trump Commerce Secretary nominee Wilbur Ross and senior advisor Jared Kushner attend a meeting with Senate and House legislators in the Roosevelt Room at the White House

The Senate has confirmed billionaire investor Wilbur Ross as commerce secretary as President Donald Trump adds to his economic team.

As commerce secretary Ross will play a key role in shaping administration policy on trade.

Ross is known in Japan for his takeover and restructuring of Kofuku Bank, an Osaka-based regional bank that went under in 1999, among other investments in Japanese companies.

Ross, chosen by U.S. President Donald Trump to help implement the president-elect's trade agenda, earned his fortune in part by running businesses that have offshored thousands of U.S.jobs, according to Labor Department data attained by Reuters. Senator Bill Nelson, the ranking Democrat on the panel, called the hearing a "piece of cake" compared with the grilling endured by some of Trump's other cabinet nominees.

He also accused China of erecting "very high" tariff and nontariff trade barriers, saying the country is "the most protectionist country" among large economies.

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

The investor will oversee a sprawling agency with almost 44,000 employees responsible for combating the dumping of imports below cost into US markets, collecting census and critical economic data, weather forecasting, fisheries management, promoting the United States to foreign investors and regulating the export of sensitive technologies.

In his new role, Wilbur Ross will be among those leading a potential free-trade deal between the USA and the United Kingdom - although his comments sparked fears America will seek to exploit the uncertainty created by Brexit to win business.

As a high-stakes investor a decade ago, Ross specialized in turning around troubled manufacturing companies at a time when the USA economy was losing more than 100,000 jobs yearly due to global trade.

Ross agreed to divest of almost all of his personal holdings and resigned from dozens of boards and organisations to take the Commerce SEcretary post. He's slated to be officially sworn in on Tuesday at the White House.

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.

Worth an estimated $2.9 billion, Ross has extensive business ties around the globe.

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