U.S. President Donald Trump appeared to have toned down his populist rhetoric and largely stuck to a script that intended to remind the congregation of globalist world leaders, bankers, industry influencers and CEO’s that America is still relevant and very much a key player in global economics.
However, Trump used the forum to take aim at Beijing which last year claimed the United States was “in retreat” and that China was ready to assume the mantle of world leader:
“The U.S. will no longer turn a blind eye to unfair economic practices including massive intellectual property theft, industrial subsidies and pervasive state-led economic planning. These and other predatory behaviours are distorting the global markets and harming businesses and workers not just in the U.S. but around the globe.”
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had previously called out China for what he referred to as “predatory practices” by continually undermining an international rules-based order.
Tillerson is referring to China’s on-going construction of military facilities on disputes islands in the Western Philippine Sea despite the United Nations tribunal dismissing its historical claim.
The Secretary of State has also accused China of predatory lending practices by offering foreign loans to countries in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America in order to gain an economic advantage.
Recently, the Trump administration imposed tariffs on solar panels and washing machines that were made in China which drew sharp and immediate outcry from Beijing.
Trump highlighted the economic gains of the United States under his administration which included the addition of 2.4 Million jobs and a surging stock market:
“The world is witnessing the resurgence of a strong and prosperous America. I’m here to deliver a simple message. There has never been a better time to hire, to build, to invest and to grow in the United States. America is open for business and we are competitive again.”
Attendees at Davos were in agreement that Trump’s speech was generally muted.
Stephen Gemkow, Chairman of Haniel investment firm:
“Certainly he (Trump) was very successful in presenting his successes. The speech had a very strong domestic focus. I would have wished to hear more about international, multilateral aspects.”
Kristian Jensen, Danish Finance Minister:
“It was a speech about what he has done. I would have liked to hear about he will renew international cooperation. I miss America on the international scene.”
Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate:
“It was very much what I expected. They kept it short because he has a hard time keeping on script.”
Generally, Trump’s speech was well – received. However he received boos and hisses when he used the forum to continue his attacks on mainstream media which he had labelled “fake news”.