Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Thursday said that he believes the coronavirus is likely to “accelerate” the return of jobs to the United States and Mexico, as companies assess what he described as the potential “risk factor” for doing business in China.
“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 said during an appearance on Fox Business. “On top of all the other things, you have SARS, you have the African swine virus there, now you have this. It’s another risk factor that people need to take into account.”
He added: “So, I think it will help accelerate the return of jobs to North America—some to the US, probably some to Mexico as well.”
The remarks, which prompted immediate shock and outrage on social media, came as China announced that the death toll from the virus has risen to 170, with the New York Times reporting that every province and region in the country has been affected. The deadly outbreak has sparked a wave of misinformation online, as well as a renewal of racist stereotypes of Chinese people and food.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration appears woefully underprepared to tackle the virus.
Secretary Wilbur Ross says coronavirus will be good for [checks notes] American jobs: "I think it will help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America." pic.twitter.com/Y4SbDIcTi4
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 30, 2020