Ross prefers inking bilateral trade agreements

Ross prefers inking bilateral trade agreements
© Greg Nash

Commerce Secretary-designate Wilbur Ross echoed Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDem senator says Zelensky was 'feeling the pressure' to probe Bidens 2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Trump calls latest impeachment hearings 'a great day for Republicans' MORE's call for bilateral trade deals instead of larger agreements where he says the United States tends to lose out.

The 79-year-old billionaire businessman said it is “easier and quicker to negotiate bilateral agreements than it is multilateral," a view shared by the president-elect, who has vowed to dismantle and rework U.S. trade policy, during Ross's confirmation hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday. 

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Under multilateral deals, Ross said he feels like the United States is giving up too much to reach a final agreement. 

“Not that there’s any inherently wrong with them but as somebody who has negotiated a lot of transactions I can tell you, the more complex the environment within which you’re negotiating the less likely you are to get to a sensible result,” Ross told the panel.

Ross noted in negotiating the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that the concessions made with each nation by the United States add up and "what happens is the other countries get the benefit of things they didn’t even ask for because you had to give them to someone else. So I think that’s a fundamental concern."

Trump has said he will withdraw from the TPP, which President Obama had hoped to push through Congress before leaving office, and will renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

While Ross said that he was initially impressed with the TPP, he was concerned about certain parts of the deal that he "felt were not consistent with what had been advertised” such as requirements for rules of origin on automobiles.

“In automotive, for example, it permits more than 60 percent of the content of the car to come from outside TPP and yet have all the tariff benefits,” Ross said.

“That didn’t strike me as the world’s best idea, particularly from the point of view of protecting the automotive industry because in in automotive 70 percent of the jobs come are in parts suppliers."