WILBUR ROSS

Turkey 2020 | DIPLOMACY | INTERVIEW

Increasing bilateral trade between Turkey and US in a way that benefits both parties remains a key focus.

Wilbur Ross
BIOGRAPHY

Wilbur Ross has been the US Secretary of Commerce since 2017. He is the former chairman and chief strategy officer of WL Ross & Co. LLC and has over 55 years of investment banking and private equity experience. Ross has been chairman or lead director of more than 100 companies operating in more than 20 different countries. He previously served as privatization adviser to New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the board of the US-Russia Investment Fund. Ross also was an advisory board member of Yale University School of Management. He is a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Business School.

Turkey and the US are talking about increasing bilateral trade from USD20 billion to USD100 billion. How are political differences likely to influence trade?
The way we get to USD100 billion is by reaching the point where we have USD50 billion on each side. The concept is balanced and reciprocal trade at a larger multiple of the current amount. We now have only USD20 billion.

When it comes to imposing sanctions on Turkey for its purchase of S-400 missile defense systems from Russia, the opinion in Washington appears divided. What is your personal opinion, and do you support sanctions on Turkey?
You have to look at the relationship from an overall point of view. Everything depends on everything else. I do not think you can answer one question separately from the others. I have learned never to forecast what congress or two administrations will do. The reason I am here is to try to see if we can do things in an amicable fashion. We are not seeking a big confrontation.

Traditionally, the US has championed itself as a champion of free trade and open markets. Is that changing under the Trump administration?
The policy is certainly different, but there are no free markets in the world. The people that talk about free markets the most are the Chinese and the Europeans, and they are among the most protectionist people. The reality is that the US is the least protectionist large country; it is just that we have not been as aggressive in our rhetoric about it. Our ultimate objective is to get other countries to match with their behavior their free market rhetoric.

The Chinese say their political philosophy does not seek political confrontation. They want to create win-win situations. Does the US believe that a trade war with China is inevitable?
We have been in a trade war with China in a sense for a long time. The difference is that we are now trying to negotiate a more equitable solution. We hope that we will get there. We thought we were there pretty well in May, then they went back to China and said they could not live up to what was discussed. We need them to get back to where we were in May.


*Excerpt from TRT World's One on One Express: Interview with US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.