Win McNamee/Getty Images
- Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a Fox Business interview on Thursday the coronavirus outbreak in China could help “accelerate the return of jobs” to the US.
- The coronavirus outbreak in China has killed 170 people so far and sickened over 7,700 people.
- It has led to projections of damage to the Chinese economy from analysts.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a Fox Business interview on Thursday that the coronavirus outbreak in China could further bolster the economy and bring jobs back to the United States.
Speaking with Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo, Ross first expressed condolences to those killed by the virus, and said he didn’t want to take “a victory lap over a very unfortunate, very malignant disease.”
But he took the chance to weigh in on how the virus could affect the US’s economic future, particularly on job growth.
“I think it will help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America, some to US, probably some to Mexico as well,” Ross said.
He also said that it would give businesses “yet another thing to consider” as they plan their operations in the world’s second largest economy. Ross cited the 2003 SARS epidemic, the “African swine virus” and the coronavirus as “a risk factor” to take into account.
A Department of Commerce spokesperson told Business Insider: “As Secretary Ross made clear the first step is to bring the virus under control and help the victims of this disease.”
“It is also important to consider the ramifications ramifications of doing business with a country that has a long history of covering up real risks to its own people and the rest of the world,” the spokesperson said. “Fortunately, the Department of Commerce is equipped to support the American people and our businesses to do both.”
The coronavirus outbreak in China has killed 170 people so far and infected more than 7,700 people, and it has spread through every province, The New York Times reported. The outbreak was initially detected in Wuhan, a city with 11 million residents. Several cases of the virus have been diagnosed in the US.
President Trump said in a Monday tweet that it’s in “very close communication” with the Chinese government, and noted China is “working very hard” to contain the virus.
The outbreak has also roiled markets and led to projections of reduced Chinese economic growth in first few months of 2020. A few of the world’s largest corporations like Apple have significantly rolled back their operations and shuttered their factories.
Starbucks closed half its stores in the country, and major airlines are stopping or reducing flights into and out of China.
One forecast from JPMorgan cited the closure of factories in some major cities until February 9 for a slowdown in the Chinese economy.
“Undoubtedly the impact will be visible,” JPMorgan analyst Haibin Zhu said, adding, “if the virus outbreak keeps on escalating and factory shutdowns are extended and also expanded to other regions, then the shock will also evolve into a supply shock and the impact on China and the rest of the world will be even bigger.”