As the coronavirus rages on in China and other countries, with more confirmed cases and a rising death toll, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced that the outbreak could “accelerate” the return of jobs to the U.S.
In an interview with Fox Business, Ross, who is estimated by Forbes to have a net worth of $600 million, said, “Well, first of all, every American’s heart has to go out to the victims of the coronavirus. So, I don’t want to talk about a victory lap over a very unfortunate, very malignant disease. But the fact is, it does give businesses yet another thing to consider when they go through their review of their supply chain.”
Ross continued his pitch, “On top of all the other things, you had SARS, you had the African swine virus there, now you have this.” He added, “It’s another risk factor that people need to take into account. So, I think it will help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America. Some to U.S., probably some to Mexico, as well.”
In light of the pervasive and escalating fear over the virus and lack of any known antidote, Ross’ comments come off as tone-deaf, inappropriate and insensitive. The commerce secretary’s assertions are frustrating since the answer is not so simple.
Major U.S. corporations that have substantial operations in China can’t just pack up their boxes and leave. They have factories, offices, vendors, suppliers and employees to consider. It almost seems disingenuous to state—in a cavalier manner—that because of this outbreak, companies will uproot their businesses and promptly return back to the U.S.