(G.N.S) Dt. 27
A more statesman-like Donald Trump was on display at Davos on Friday, championing capitalism, the spirit of American entrepreneurship and even internationalism of a kind.
He seemed to veer away from the populist rhetoric he uses to fire up his base in the speech to global business and political leaders, encouraging global corporations to invest and grow with the US. Arguably his most public effort so far to make friends and build rapport with the global community, Trump touted his tax-cut programme and doing away with what he called “burdensome regulations”.
“America is open for business and we are competing once again,”
Trump told a packed congress centre at the World Economic Forum in a short, crisp and direct speech. “Come to America, where you can innovate, create and build.”
Trump, acting as salesman-inchief for the US, hailed his peers for doing the same as cheerleaders of their respective countries.
“I believe in America. As president of United States, I will always put America First. Just like the leaders of other countries should put their country first. But America First does not mean America alone.”
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had positioned India’s deep-rooted respect for democracy, plurality and multiculturalism as the remedy to deal with global fissures.
Interestingly, in a private dinner with 15 top global CEOs on Thursday night, Trump asked the top corporate captains why US can’t grow like India.
“India with 1.5 billion people was growing at 9%. So how can it be that the US is too big to grow at the same pace?” he said. Hard-selling the resilience of the US economy, he told CEOs as diverse as Mark Tucker of HSBC, Joe Kaeser of Siemens, Heinrich Hiesinger of Thyssenkrupp, Eldar Saetre of Norway’s energy giant Statoil, Carlos Brito of Anheuser-Busch InBev and Martin Lundstedt of Sweden’s AB Volvo among others, that it could grow as rapidly as 5, 6 or even 7% this year.
There were two senior executives of Indian origin in the room — Rajiv Suri, CEO of Nokia, and Punit Renjen of Deloitte — as Trump presented a warmer, more welcoming side of him than is usually seen.
Protesters had stormed Zurich and even Davos earlier in the day and George Soros called him a threat to civilisation.
For the past week, Trump’s trade, immigration and climate change policies have been at the receiving end of global leaders from India, Canada, France and even Germany who took swipes at his protectionist leanings without mentioning his name. At his speech, Trump championed his America First position but gave it a global twist.
“When the US grows, so does the world. American prosperity has created countless jobs around the globe, and the drive for excellence, creativity and innovation in the US has led to important discoveries that help people everywhere live more prosperous and healthier lives,” he pointed out.
On immigration, he said the US wants to link it to merit to improve the skill base, something that could possibly help Indian coders and IT graduates seeking jobs there. China was indirect targeted. Trump warned that his government would not tolerate theft of US intellectual property and state-subsidised economic interference.
On trade, he stuck to his known stance, suggesting that he is open to negotiate with individual countries, or the entire group of countries, that are still party to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, provided this helps both parties in equal measure.
He had pulled the US out of negotiations on the treaty in one of his first acts as president.
To be sure, the Trump that the world is more familiar with showed up at the Q&A after his speech, when he couldn’t resist making references to the “fake news media”.