Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Jr. and US-Asia Pacific Relations

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Coordinator: Sarah Wang. For methodology, click here.

This resource will track statements, developments, visits and other interactions in US-Asia Pacific relations given or undertaken by Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Jr. 

To view quotations, debriefs of interactions with Asia Pacific leaders, and media sorted by topic, scroll down or use the links below.

Travel to Asia Pacific Countries Asia Pacific Leaders Asia Pacific Allies & Partners
China/Taiwan Human Rights & Democracy North Korea
South China Sea Southeast Asia/ASEAN Summits - APEC, East Asia (EAS), & US-ASEAN
Trade & Investment    

To view the stances of President Trump, Vice President Pence, Secretary of Defense Mattis, Secretary of Commerce Ross, and Secretary of State Tillerson on various issues in US-Asia Pacific relations, click here.

To view quotations, interviews, and policy documents given by and interactions with Asia Pacific leaders undertaken by President Trump, Vice President Pence, Secretary of Defense Mattis, and Secretary of State Tillerson use the links below.

President Donald J. Trump Vice President Mike Pence Secretary of Defense James Mattis
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson    

To examine Asian reactions to ongoing developments in US-Asia relations and the US 2016 Presidential election,click here.

To explore previous quotations, views on Asia Pacific issues, and other connections to Asia from President Trump, Vice President Pence, and other candidates in the 2016 Presidential Election, click here.

Travel to Asia Pacific Countries

  • Japanese Flag. Image: http://www.flaticon.com Japan in April 2017.

Asia Pacific Leaders

  • On June 30, 2017, Secretary Ross met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, President Trump, and National Economic Council (NEC) Director Gary Cohn to discuss the US-South Korea economic relationship
  • On May 31, 2017, Secretary Ross met with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Washington, DC to discuss the US-Vietnam bilateral economic relationship. Seeking to further strengthen the ties between both countries, they presided over a ceremony where over $8 billion worth of deals between US and Vietnamese companies were finalized. 
  • On May 3, 2017, Secretary Ross, along with Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, spoke to Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang on the phone to discuss bilateral trade issues between the United States and China.
  • On March 16, 2017, Secretary Ross met with Japanese Economy Minister Hiroshige Seko in Washington to affirm the importance of strengthening US-Japan trade ties and broader investment goals in the Asia Pacific region. 

Asia Pacific Allies & Partners

  • On May 31, 2017, Secretary Ross met with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Washington, DC to discuss the US-Vietnam bilateral economic relationship. Seeking to further strengthen the ties between both countries, they presided over a ceremony where over $8 billion worth of deals between US and Vietnamese companies were finalized. 
  • On May 16, 2017, Secretary Ross announced the final determinations of countervailing duty and anti-dumping investigations of steel reinforcement bar imports from Japan, which were estimated at $96.1 million in 2016. 
  • On May 10, 2017, Secretary Ross announced a new countervailing duty and anti-dumping investigations of cold-drawn mechanical tubing from China, Germany, Italy, India, Korea, and Switzerland. China and India are also under investigation for 34 and 32 alleged subsidy programs, respectively. 
  • "Well, the fifth anniversary of the South Korean arrangement, the so-called KORUS, comes up I believe on May 4th or May 5th, something like that.  So that would be a logical time to think through whether there was something to be done or not." [Source] White House Press Briefing. April 26, 2017
  • The US does not have a free trade agreement with India at this point. So the trade relations between US and India are governed by the WTO rules. [...] I don’t believe that there have been any serious discussions with India of late on the topic of a free trade agreement. But there’s no inherent negative attitude on our part on that." [Source] White House Press Briefing. April 26, 2017
  • [After meeting with Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige in Japan] "We are certainly eager to increase our trade relationships with Japan and to do so in the form of an agreement." [Source] Kentaro Iwamoto. Nikkei Asian Review. April 18, 2017
  • Under Secretary Ross, the Department of Commerce exercised its authority under Congress for the first time on April 11, 2017 to address market distortions in the production of foreign merchandise and calculate more accurate dumping margins. The Department has found that South Korean steel producers have been unfairly dumping oil country tubular goods (OCTG) into the US market. 
  • On March 16, 2017 Secretary Ross met with Japanese Economy Minister Hiroshige Seko in Washington to affirm the importance of strengthening US-Japan trade ties and broader investment goals in the Asia Pacific region. 

China/Taiwan

  • "Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced the affirmative preliminary determination in the countervailing duty (CVD) investigation of aluminum foil from the People’s Republic of China (China), preliminary finding that Chinese exporters of aluminum foil received countervailing subsidies 16.56 to 80.97 percent." [Source] U.S. Department of Commerce Issues Affirmative Preliminary Countervailing Duty Determination on Aluminum Foil From the People's Republic of China. August 8, 2017 
  • “China acknowledged our shared objective to reduce the trade deficit which both sides will work cooperatively to achieve. Since the Presidential Summit, the first 100 days made progress on important issues including credit ratings, bond clearing, electronic payments, commercial banking, and liquefied natural gas.  Also, this is the first time since 2003 that the Chinese have allowed for imports of American beef. The principles of balance, fairness, and reciprocity on matters of trade will continue to guide the American position so we can give American workers and businesses an opportunity to compete on a level playing field. We look to achieving the important goals set forth by President Trump this past April in Mar-a-Lago.” [SourceStatement From Secretary Ross And Secretary Mnuchin Following The U.S. – China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue. July 19, 2017
  • [Regarding the finalizing of a deal between the United States and China to export US beef to China] “President Trump is doing more to improve the U.S.-China relationship than any president in decades, and this final beef protocol agreement represents even more concrete progress. As we clear away long-standing issues like this one, focusing on near-term, verifiable deliverables, we are building a sound foundation for further discussions.  I look forward to engaging with our Chinese counterparts as we address more complex issues to the benefit of both our nations.” [ Source] Department of Commerce Press Statement. June 12, 2017 
  • On May 10, 2017, Secretary Ross announced a new countervailing duty and antidumping investigations of cold-drawn mechanical tubing from China, Germany, Italy, India, Korea, and Switzerland. China and India are also under investigation for 34 and 32 alleged subsidy programs, respectively. 
  • On May 3, 2017, Secretary Ross, along with Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, spoke to Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang on the phone to dicuss bilateral trade issues between the United States and China.
  • On April 21, 2017 Secretary Ross announced a new anti-dumping duty investigation against carton-closing staples from China. 
  • "'If we [the United States] don't get some tangible results [from China regarding trade] within the first 100 days, I think we'll have to examine whether it's worthwhile continuing them [...] It requires everybody playing by the rules and it requires everybody to have the same objectives. We’ll see in a very, very short while whether it is really the case that we are on the same wavelength.'" [Source] Interview with Fox News. April 9, 2017
  • "What I would hope would come out [of President Trump's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping] would be a commitment to start abiding by the rules and a commitment to working collaboratively to help reduce our deficit [with China]." [Source] Interview with Fox and Friends. March 31, 2017 
  • "Secretary Ross on Nafta, China, and Border Adjustment Tax." [Follow-up on the criminal penalty negotiations with Chinese company ZTE. The China portion of the interview can be viewed from 0:00-1:33 of the interview]. [Source] Bloomberg. March 8, 2017
  • On March 7, 2017, Secretary Ross announced that China's Zhongxing Telecommunications Equipment Corporation and ZTE Kangxun Telecommunications Ltd. (ZTE) has agreed to pay a criminal penalty of $1.19 billion after violating sanctions on exports to Iran and North Korea.

To view the  press conference of this announcement, click here

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of Commerce on January 18, 2017, Wilbur Ross, Jr. was questioned by Senator John Thune (R-SD) about China's trade practices.

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of Commerce on January 18, 2017, Wilbur Ross, Jr. was questioned by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) on how to counter steel dumping, including that by China.

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of Commerce on January 18, 2017, Wilbur Ross, Jr. was questioned by Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) on how he would expand free trade, including the removal of trade barriers like those imposed by China.

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of Commerce on January 18, 2017, Wilbur Ross, Jr. was questioned by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) about Chinese investment in the United States.

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of Commerce on January 18, 2017, Wilbur Ross, Jr. was questioned by Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) on the potential for direct bilateral trade with Taiwan. 

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of Commerce on January 18, 2017, Wilbur Ross, Jr. was questioned by Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) on the barriers to US investment into China and the need for reciprocity.

Human Rights & Democracy

 

North Korea

 

South China Sea

 

Southeast Asia/ASEAN

  • On May 31, 2017, Secretary Ross met with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Washington, DC to discuss the US-Vietnam bilateral economic relationship. Seeking to further strengthen the ties between both countries, they presided over a ceremony where over $8 billion worth of deals between US and Vietnamese companies were finalized. 

Summits - APEC, East Asia (EAS), & US-ASEAN

 

Trade & Investment

  • "Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced the affirmative preliminary determination in the countervailing duty (CVD) investigation of aluminum foil from the People’s Republic of China (China), preliminary finding that Chinese exporters of aluminum foil received countervailing subsidies 16.56 to 80.97 percent." [SourceU.S. Department of Commerce Issues Affirmative Preliminary Countervailing Duty Determination on Aluminum Foil From the People's Republic of China. August 8, 2017 
  • “China acknowledged our shared objective to reduce the trade deficit which both sides will work cooperatively to achieve. Since the Presidential Summit, the first 100 days made progress on important issues including credit ratings, bond clearing, electronic payments, commercial banking, and liquefied natural gas.  Also, this is the first time since 2003 that the Chinese have allowed for imports of American beef. The principles of balance, fairness, and reciprocity on matters of trade will continue to guide the American position so we can give American workers and businesses an opportunity to compete on a level playing field. We look to achieving the important goals set forth by President Trump this past April in Mar-a-Lago.” [SourceStatement From Secretary Ross And Secretary Mnuchin Following The U.S. – China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue. July 19, 2017
  • On June 30, 2017, Secretary Ross met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, President Trump, and National Economic Council (NEC) Director Gary Cohn to discuss the US-South Korea economic relationship
  • [Regarding the finalizing of a deal between the United States and China to export US beef to China] “President Trump is doing more to improve the U.S.-China relationship than any president in decades, and this final beef protocol agreement represents even more concrete progress. As we clear away long-standing issues like this one, focusing on near-term, verifiable deliverables, we are building a sound foundation for further discussions.  I look forward to engaging with our Chinese counterparts as we address more complex issues to the benefit of both our nations.” [ SourceDepartment of Commerce Press Statement. June 12, 2017 
  • On May 31, 2017, Secretary Ross met with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Washington, DC to discuss the US-Vietnam bilateral economic relationship. Seeking to further strengthen the ties between both countries, they presided over a ceremony where over $8 billion worth of deals between US and Vietnamese companies were finalized. 
  • On May 16, 2017, Secretary Ross announced the final determinations of countervailing duty and anti-dumping investigations of steel reinforcement bar imports from Japan, which were estimated at $96.1 million in 2016. 
  • On May 10, 2017, Secretary Ross announced a new countervailing duty and anti-dumping investigations of cold-drawn mechanical tubing from China, Germany, Italy, India, Korea, and Switzerland. China and India are also under investigation for 34 and 32 alleged subsidy programs, respectively. 
  • "Now, not all of the free-trade agreements that we have result in deficits.  But some of the larger ones also result in some of the larger deficits.  In all trade relations with companies, other than free-trade companies, are governed by the WTO, the World Trade Organization.  So that's really the grandparent of all trade arrangements that we have. And as far as I can tell there has never been a systematic evaluation of what has been the impact of the WTO agreements on the country as an integrated whole.  So it’s trying to find violations and abuses.  It calls for a report within 180 days.  But this particular report, it calls for not just outlining the problem or problems, but also proposing the solutions -- alternative solutions to them. [...] And so maybe it would be useful to you to hear where are some of the big deficits so that you can put it into perspective.  China alone is the number-one deficit.  It’s $347 billion. This is on the goods part alone.  So the base is $700 billion.  And China is 47.2 percent of that. Japan is next at $68.9 billion, which is 9.4 percent. [...]Vietnam, $32 billion, 4.3 percent. [...] South Korea, $27.7 billion.  We do have a free-trade agreement with South Korea.  And that's 3.8 percent of the problem. Malaysia, $24.8 billion, 3.4 percent.India, $24.3 billion, 3.3 percent." [Source] Press briefing on Executive Order on Trade Agreement Violations and Abuses. April 28, 2017
  • "Well, the fifth anniversary of the South Korean arrangement, the so-called KORUS, comes up I believe on May 4th or May 5th, something like that.  So that would be a logical time to think through whether there was something to be done or not." [Source] White House Press Briefing. April 26, 2017
  • The US does not have a free trade agreement with India at this point. So the trade relations between US and India are governed by the WTO rules. [...] I don’t believe that there have been any serious discussions with India of late on the topic of a free trade agreement. But there’s no inherent negative attitude on our part on that." [Source] White House Press Briefing. April 26, 2017
  • On April 21, 2017 Secretary Ross announced a new antidumping duty investigation against carton-closing staples from China. 
  • [After meeting with Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige in Japan] "We are certainly eager to increase our trade relationships with Japan and to do so in the form of an agreement." [Source] Kentaro Iwamoto. Nikkei Asian Review. April 18, 2017
  • Under Secretary Ross, the Department of Commerce exercised its authority under Congress for the first time on April 11, 2017 to address market distortions in the production of foreign merchandise and calculate more accurate dumping margins. The Department has found that South Korean steel producers have been unfairly dumping oil country tubular goods (OCTG) into the US market. 
  • "'If we [the United States] don't get some tangible results [from China regarding trade] within the first 100 days, I think we'll have to examine whether it's worthwhile continuing them [...] It requires everybody playing by the rules and it requires everybody to have the same objectives. We’ll see in a very, very short while whether it is really the case that we are on the same wavelength.'" [SourceInterview with Fox News. April 9, 2017
  • "What I would hope would come out [of President Trump's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping] would be a commitment to start abiding by the rules and a commitment to working collaboratively to help reduce our deficit [with China]." [Source] Interview with Fox and Friends. March 31, 2017 
  • "Secretary Ross on Nafta, China, and Border Adjustment Tax." [Follow-up on the criminal penalty negotiations with Chinese company ZTE. The China portion of the interview can be viewed from 0:00-1:33 of the interview]. [SourceBloomberg. March 8, 2017
  • On March 7, 2017, Secretary Ross announced that China's Zhongxing Telecommunications Equipment Corporation and ZTE Kangxun Telecommunications Ltd. has agreed to pay a criminal penalty of $1.19 billion after violating sanctions on exports to Iran and North Korea.

To view the  press conference of this announcement, click here

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of Commerce on January 18, 2017, Wilbur Ross, Jr. was questioned by Senator John Thune (R-SD) about China's trade practices.

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of Commerce on January 18, 2017, Wilbur Ross, Jr. was questioned by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) on how to counter steel dumping, including that by China.

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of Commerce on January 18, 2017, Wilbur Ross, Jr. was questioned by Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) on how he would expand free trade, including the removal of trade barriers like those imposed by China.

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of Commerce on January 18, 2017, Wilbur Ross, Jr. was questioned by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) about Chinese investment in the United States.

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of Commerce on January 18, 2017, Wilbur Ross, Jr. was questioned by Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) on the potential for direct bilateral trade with Taiwan. 

During his confirmation hearing for Secretary of Commerce on January 18, 2017, Wilbur Ross, Jr. was questioned by Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) on the barriers to US investment into China and the need for reciprocity.

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Methodology: Policy materials and quotations from Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Jr. are limited to after January 18, 2017 when he underwent a confirmation hearing before the Senate. Should any quotations before the period be deemed relevant they will be indicated by an asterisk (*) after the date. In all cases, these additional quotations were made within the year prior to the start of the Trump Administration. Flag icons that indicate which countries members of the Trump administration have traveled to are provided by Freepik, accessed through www.flaticon.com.

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