United States President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Australian Andrew Liveris, chairman and chief of Dow Chemical, to head the American Manufacturing Council — a private-sector group that advises the US secretary of commerce.
Mr Trump made the announcement during a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he introduced the 62-year-old dual US-Australian citizen as “one of the foremost leaders in manufacturing, one of the foremost leaders in the world of business”.
“Andrew Liveris [is] one of the most respected businessmen in the world and I’m asking him to come up and head up our American Manufacturing Council — and he’s agreed to do it,” Mr Trump said.
“They will be tasked with finding ways to bring industry back to America.”
Mr Trump said Liveris “cares greatly about this state (Michigan) and this country – even though he does happen to come from Australia”.
Mr Liveris was born in Darwin to a Greek migrant family and studied chemical engineering at Brisbane’s University of Queensland, from where he later also received an honorary doctorate.
The head of the Michigan-based chemical corporation lauded Mr Trump and his policies, telling the cheering crowd “we’re going to put you all to work”.
BREAKING: Trump picks Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris to head the American manufacturing Council pic.twitter.com/r3JxoVM5f9
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) December 10, 2016
“President-elect Trump, I can’t tell you, I tingle with pride listening to you, but to honour me to help you chair American Manufacturing Council to put in place the investments that you talk about, you’re paving the way with your administraion, with your policies, to make it easier to do business in this country — not a red-tape country but a red-carpet country for American businesses,” he said.
“America first, as you said. That’s what we have to do.”
Mr Liveris, speaking in a broad Australian accent, said the council would comprise “America’s finest and brightest” and highlighted the need to get young people employed.
“We need to help all of our citizens, we need to give you hope, we need to find a way back to believe in ourselves again,” he said.
“As you rightly said, I may have a funny accent — we Aussies love America a lot — I bleed America and I bleed Michigan, that’s what I do.
“Thank you, sir, it’s an honour — let’s make America great again by building great things in America.”
‘Complacency’ Australia’s ‘greatest enemy’: Liveris
Mr Liveris, a vocal advocate for for manufacturing in advanced economies, has previously been critical of Australian businesses’ “ability to innovate and develop the things that the United States has”.
“Australia, my wonderful home country, the lucky country, the well-written-about happiest country in the world, of course has complacency as its greatest enemy,” he said earlier this year.
His career at Dow began in Melbourne in 1976 and he later worked as the General Manager for Dow’s Thailand businesses.
A cousin who still lives in Darwin, also called Andrew Liveris, said the 62-year-old businessman was not focused on material success and understood people.
“Andrew is still a real person. The grandeur, the success has not changed him in any way,” Mr Liveris said.
“I think that is a consequence of his growing up in Darwin. I think a lot of Darwin people are like that.
Mr Liveris will now head up the American Manufacturing Council, which is responsible for ensuring regular communication between the Government and manufacturing sector, advising the secretary of commerce on government policies and providing a forum for discussing industry-related problems.
It consists of up to 25 private-sector individuals, appointed by the secretary of commerce for a two-year term.
Mr Trump said Mr Liveris would establish his council of “the greatest leaders there are” next week.
Meanwhile, a senior Trump transition official has said Exxon Mobil Corp chief executive Rex Tillerson has emerged as Mr Trump’s leading candidate for US secretary of state.
Mr Trump met 64-year-old Mr Tillerson on Tuesday and may talk to him again over the weekend, the official said. Mr Trump appears to be in the final days of deliberations over his top diplomat with an announcement possible next week.
Mr Tillerson’s favoured status was revealed as former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani formally withdrew from consideration for the senior cabinet position.
Exxon Mobil has operations in more than 50 countries and boasts that it explores for oil and natural gas on six continents.
Notable that Trump brought up Rex Tillerson unprompted pic.twitter.com/iFkGpkIYu0
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) December 7, 2016
In 2011, Exxon Mobil signed a deal with Rosneft, Russia’s largest state-owned oil company, for joint oil exploration and production. Since then, the companies have formed 10 joint ventures for projects in Russia.
In 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded Mr Tillerson an Order of Friendship.
But US sanctions against Russia for its incursion into Crimea cost Exxon Mobil dearly, forcing it to scrap some projects and costing it at least $US1 billion in losses. Mr Tillerson has been a vocal critic of the sanctions.
Mr Trump has spoken of wanting warmer relations with Moscow, which has sparked concerns in Congress that he could lift or loosen some of the sanctions on Russia.
Mr Tillerson has been chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil since 2006. He is expected to retire from the company next year.
– with ABC/Reuters