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Trump to name billionaire investor Ross as commerce secy

world Updated: Nov 24, 2016 22:48 IST
Yashwant Raj
Wilbur Ross

President-elect Donald Trump with investor Wilbur Ross.(AP File)

Donald Trump is expected to name as his commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, a billionaire investor who specialises in turning around failing companies as the US President-elect expands his cabinet and makes it more diverse.

And in his message to the nation on Thanksgiving, a national festival, Trump called for the need to “begin to heal our divisions”, invoking Abraham Lincoln to urge Americans to speak with “one voice and one heart”.

Ross was instrumental in shaping Trump’s campaign platform on economy, specially the hardline position against the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, which Trump is determined to exit. According to The Washington Post, which first reported Ross was being considered, the investor built his fortune turning around distressed companies — one of which he sold to Lakshmi Mittal, the India-born steel king.

India will be following this appointment closely as commerce is now the second and equally important leg of an expanded bilateral annual engagement since 2014, called India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue.

On Wednesday, he named billionaire Betty DeVos to head the education department, adding another woman to his team after South Carolina’s Indian American governor Nikki Haley who will be US ambassador to the UN.

Trump also named rival-turned-ally Ben Carson his housing and urban development secretary, making him the first African American member in his team, which has been criticised for such appointments as the divisive Steven Bannon.

Bannon, who as head of Breitbart News turned the publication into a platform for anti-semitic, racist and anti-immigrants Alt-Right conservatives, was among Trump’s first announcements, as his chief strategist and counsel.

It came amid celebration of Trump’s victory among Alt-Right elements and a sharp spike in hate attacks on blacks, muslims, jews, hispanics and LGBT community across the country, and fuelled fears of deepening fissures in American society.

Trump has tried to stop it, but has been seen to be slow.

His thanksgiving message sought to address those fears but it may take time, he cautioned. “We have just finished a long and bruising political campaign. Emotions are raw and tensions just don’t heal overnight. It doesn’t go quickly, unfortunately, but we have before us the chance now to make history together to bring real change.”