U.S. will not cede leadership in Latam to 'authoritarian' nations-U.S. commerce chief

commerce chief@

LIMA, April 12 (Reuters) - U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross touted the benefits of U.S. trade with Latin America on Thursday in Peru and said the United States would not cede leadership in the region to "authoritarian countries."

Speaking at a business event before Friday's start of the Summit of the Americas in Lima, Ross said that most Latin American exports to China were raw materials and credited U.S. imports from the region for creating jobs.

After his speech, Ross told journalists it would be "sensible" for there to be a deal on NAFTA but declined to estimate when one might be reached. "You'll know when we know," Ross said. (Reporting by Mitra Taj; Editing by Sandra Maler)