Commerce Secretary: Coronavirus Will Trigger 'Return of Jobs' to US


Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross suggested Thursday that the viral outbreak in China might offer an unexpected benefit for the U.S. economy: It could encourage American manufacturers in China to return to the United States.

“I think it will help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America. Some to U.S., probably some to Mexico as well,’’ Ross told Fox Business Network.

The new virus, from the coronavirus family, has paralyzed business in China.

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The industrial hub of Wuhan and other Chinese cities are on lockdown.

China has reported more than 7,700 cases and 170 deaths.

The crisis has also begun to ripple through U.S. companies with operations in China.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has said the company’s suppliers in China have been forced to delay reopening factories that closed for the Lunar New Year holiday.

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More than half of Starbucks’ stores in China are now closed.

McDonald’s has closed several hundred restaurants in China.

Ross emphasized that he didn’t “want to talk about a victory lap over a very unfortunate, very malignant disease.’’

He added, though, that “the fact is, it does give businesses yet another thing to consider when they go through their review of their supply chain.’’

Even before the viral outbreak, many U.S. and other foreign companies had been rethinking their presence in China and considering their options for relocating elsewhere, possibly elsewhere in Asia.

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That is partly because President Donald Trump has imposed tariffs on $360 billion in Chinese imports in a war over Beijing’s economic policies and partly because Chinese labor and other costs have been rising.

Asked about Ross’ comments, Larry Kudlow, President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser, declined to endorse the notion that the U.S. economy stands to benefit from China’s health crisis.

“This is not about trade, jobs or any of that,’’ Kudlow told reporters.

He added: “The president has a lot of compassion for the Chinese situation. The threat of large numbers of people dying is a terrible thing. We just want to help.’’

The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.

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