Donald Trump – the maverick

22 Jan 2017

The crowd on the National Mall reacts during the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington

Love him or hate him – the man now holds the US economy in his hands

“Apple might soon be “convinced” by Trump to shift its manufacturing unit from China to America. Trump being a corporate world insider, equipped with all the tools of the trade and immense power as President of United Sates, makes offers that no business can refuse.”

For the past few months, the American elections have relentlessly been under debate on the global media. Hillary Clinton was assumed to be winning based on the results attained from several polls and observations, in the US. However, I had — on record — prophesised that anyone with three qualities could win. These included truthfulness regardless of the intellect of the candidate, harmony between the candidate’s and the nation’s thinking and an ability to resurrect the economy of the country. I further stated that anyone with the greater amount of these qualities would bag the victory and that Trump seemed to be a better candidate in this regard. I was criticised ruthlessly by “Trump Haters” but I was proven right eventually and Trump won the elections

Let’s analyse the post-Trump American economic situation. Internally, the USA is confronting an industrial famine. A number of Americans consider the previous governments responsible for this, the North American Free Trade Agreement in particular, that was signed among America, Canada and Mexico in December 1993. Clinton signed the agreement that encouraged bringing down the trade barriers and tariffs. It also encouraged increasing inter-country jobs and investments. In the aftermath of the agreement, a number of businesses shifted to Canada and Mexico. Foreign items were brought in the US and businesses began to move out of America on account of the high taxes in the USA. Cheaper Chinese products have now flooded the American market leading to a decline in manufacturing industry. Moreover, a number of illegal immigrants, Mexicans being the most rampant, currently inhabit the USA in large numbers, stealing American jobs. These reasons have induced immense anger in the Americans. Trump proposed an economic upturn by saying that he would cut down on the taxes and bring back the businesses from abroad; revise tariffs for Chinese products, and tighten up the border with Mexico — in order to curtail illegal immigrant flow. Moreover, Trump claimed that he, being a master in the art of the deal, would secure bigger and better deals for America. He refused to pay nearly 70 percent of NATO spending, terming the disproportionate contribution as unfair to the USA. He refused to extend military support to the Arab world against their regional rivals without America being “compensated” reasonably for its services. He further heralded building economic relationship with Russia and drew down the nuclear arms race. Recently; Trump mentioned a possibility of lifting sanctions against Russia in exchange for a nuclear reduction deal. However, it was not the nuclear ambitions of Russia rather the Russian policy towards Ukraine that prompted these sanctions. This statement by Trump, therefore, seems like a mere excuse to lift sanctions against Russia while simultaneously saving his own government’s face. Trump is all set to channel America’s resources towards its own economic growth.

Domestically, he clearly warned the manufacturing industry, such as automobile industry, to suspend its plans to shift its manufacturing units abroad or face 30 percent plus duties on the exports of their products to America — Ford has already cancelled its plan to build $1.6 billion plant in Mexico, securing more than 3,500 American jobs. Moreover, Apple might soon be “convinced” by Trump to shift its manufacturing unit from China to America. Trump being a corporate world insider, equipped with all the tools of the trade and immense power as president of United Sates, makes offers that no business can refuse.

 

“Unlike business people from manufacturing or the tertiary sector, his fortune rests in the land and real-estate development. Therefore, his focus would be the infra-structure building, increasing earning level of the population, alluring foreign investments and economic growth. This is the best time to invest in the real-estate sector in USA.”

 

Trump holds unorthodox views on foreign policy with traditional US allies. He publicly voiced his differences with European Union (EU), especially Germany. Recently, talking to German and British newspapers, Donald Trump called Angela Merkel’s open door policy to refugees a “catastrophic mistake”; EU as being dominated by Germany is designed to work against US trade interests. Moreover, he heralds increased economic relations with Russia. This is a shift of US’ foreign policy away from European allies and towards better ties with the traditional adversary, Russia. This shift will dramatically change the dynamics of power in the region in favour of Russia and further weaken the already eroding NATO alliance. Moreover, Trump doesn’t seem keen about increasing military intervention in the Middle East or regime change in Syria. Rather, he has delineated fighting Da’ish (ISIS) as his top priority in Syria. This puts him in odds with the traditional US allies, the Sunni Arab world. In Asia, Trump seems to counter the influence of China and side with India.

If we holistically analyse the policies put forward by Donald Trump, there is one thing common in them; they are all rational. Not going into arms race with Russia, rather opting for economic corporation, non-interference in internal affairs of foreign countries, making allies pay their fair share (NATO), protecting American jobs and business, stemming illegal immigrant flow and making economic uplift a top priority internally and combating religious extremism globally as the main driving force behind his policies are all rational. In order to get into Trump’s mind, one needs to understand that he is not just another businessman — rather he is a real-estate business man. His wealth increases if the value of real-estate increases. The value of real-estate increases if there is increase in economic activity. Unlike business people from manufacturing or tertiary sectors, his fortune rests in land and real-estate development. Therefore, his focus would be infra-structure building, increasing earning level of the population, luring foreign investment and economic growth. This is the best time to invest in the real-estate sector in USA.

On a personal level, there are various aspects that set him apart from conventional presidents; from appointing his close relatives to prime posts in the cabinet to starting a feud with anyone and everyone who messes with him. For example, there is a clear cut cold war going on between Trump and the intelligence community. He audaciously pinned the ones leaking confidential information related to Russian interference with US presidential elections in a fiery press conference. In the same press conference he called CNN “fake news.” Moreover; recently, he picked up a fight with John Lewis, a congressman who is revered for his close association with Martin Luther King. Trump never shies away from confronting religious leaders, media powerhouses, influential senior politicians — both from Democratic and Republican camps — war veterans, TV hosts, showbiz celebrities, social activist, judges, the all-powerful intelligence community, etc. The list is a long and ever increasing one. Trump’s message is simple and clear; if you mess with him — no matter who you are — he will get back at you. No individual, group, organisation or country is untouchable for Trump. In his defense, his supporters say that great leaders are respected, not loved.

Published in “Pakistan Today” on 22 January 2017

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