Billionaire casino executive Sheldon Adelson has parlayed his company’s massive investments in China into a four-year presidential advisory position with the U.S. Trade Representative office.
The appointment to the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations comes as Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp. is following through on plans to invest some $13 billion to transform the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau into a casino resort that mimics the Strip. The company opened the $2.4 billion Venetian Macau, the second of several properties planned there, in August.
Adelson, a strong Republican supporter, met with U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab inside the exclusive Paiza Club at The Venetian casino to discuss the appointment on Monday.
Schwab said Adelson’s experience in dealing with China in its service sector, which she contended still has barriers to outside entrants, would help.
Adelson said governments in China and Singapore, where the Sands is building convention centers and casino-resorts, have been "very cooperative" and most problems are "issues of understanding rather than contentious issues."
"They don’t wake up in the morning and say what can we do to make things difficult for the Americans," Adelson told The Associated Press.
But the chief executive, ranked third on Forbes magazine’s list of richest Americans, relished the thought of attempting to influence China to ease controls on its yuan, which the United States views as undervalued.
A rise in the value of the yuan against the dollar would balloon the amount Chinese gamblers could spend both in Las Vegas and in Macau, which pegs its currency to the greenback.
"The floating of the yuan would be like a grand slam home run, World Series, Super Bowl, and the NBA championship game all packed in one for us," Adelson said. "We’re the largest investor of any kind in the history of China. Certainly we’re going to use any influence we have to see that the U.S. policy and the trade representative policy is implemented."
The committee, which meets about three times a year to advise the president on trade policy, has members that include Intel Corp. chairman Craig Barrett and S.C. Johnson & Son Chief Executive H. Fisk Johnson.