The World Isn’t Buying Trump’s “America First” Schtick | News

The World Isn’t Buying Trump’s “America First” Schtick


This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here.

Donald Trump is in Davos, Switzerland, today, for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, probably the biggest gathering of elites in the world. This will be the first time an American president has spoken to the WEF since 2000, and Trump’s speech is something of a main event.
  • WaPo: “Trump is expected to talk once more about the glories of his ‘America First’ domestic and foreign policy, touting the supposed roaring success of the U.S. economy under his watch and reaffirming the nativist tenets that underline his worldview. He is also expected to extend a hand to a probably wary audience, pitching America as open for business and investment.”
  • However: “On Wednesday, both French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel launched thinly veiled attacks on Trump's agenda and used their platforms to hail the potential emergence of a more independent and more integrated Europe. ‘We need to take more responsibility; we need to take our destiny into our own hands,’ Merkel said, issuing what's now become a familiar refrain in the age of Trump. She also said ‘protectionism was not the answer’ and lamented the ‘poison’ of right-wing populism, which, among other things, threatens her own hold on power as Germany struggles to form a new government.”
  • “[Macron’s] remarks would be familiar to anyone who has listened to his earlier major speeches, bullish on France's role at the ‘core’ of the European Union and rife with calls for ‘innovation’ and huge investments in education and research to revitalize the French economy. He also used the occasion to mock Trump's climate denial. ‘With this snow, it's hard to believe in global warming,’ Macron joked, referring to the walls of ice and slush built up around the forum's venues. ‘Obviously and thankfully, you didn’t invite anyone skeptical about global warming this year.’”
  • “Despite the entreaties of administration officials, though, ‘America alone’ is the conclusion drawn by many analysts of Trump's foreign policy. Trump, through his tweeted attacks on allies and oft-muddled messaging, has ‘burnt some goodwill that built up over many years’ overseas, argued [Republican Senator Bob] Corker, ‘and it’s going to take some time rebuild that.’”
  • Meanwhile, as the NYT notes, the rest of the world is moving on: “The world marked a turning point in global trade on Tuesday, when 11 countries agreed to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, announcing they had finalized the pact and expected to sign a deal on March 8 in Chile. It was a remarkable moment for a beleaguered agreement that was conceived and constructed by the United States, then abandoned by Washington when Mr. Trump took office last year. As the world’s largest economy and architect of many international organizations and treaties, the United States remains an indispensable partner. But as the global economy gains strength, Europe and countries including Japan and China are forging ahead with deals that do not include the United States.”
  • “Thirty-five new bilateral and regional trade pacts are under consideration around the world, according to the World Trade Organization. The United States is party to just one of them, with the European Union, and that negotiation has gone dormant. The United States is also threatening to withdraw from one of its existing multilateral agreements—the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada—if it cannot be renegotiated in the United States’ favor. ‘Maybe there was some sort of presumption on the part of the president and his team that if the U.S. said stop, this process would come to a halt,’ said Phil Levy, a senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and an economist in the George W. Bush administration. ‘What this shows is that’s not true. The world just moves on without us.’”

WHAT IT MEANS: The Trump administration’s go-it-alone mentality not only isolates the country from it allies, but it also has real consequences for its citizens.
  • One example, from the Times: “Business interests in the United States are watching with alarm as other countries strike agreements that exclude American exporters. For example, ranchers in Canada and Australia will be able to sell beef at lower prices in Japan than their American competitors, who will be subject to higher tariffs because the United States is not party to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”
  • The Trump administration’s position, such as it is, is that “America First” doesn’t mean “America Alone.” But in practice, that’s the reality of the thing.
  • “Yet the willingness of countries to engage with the United States is unclear. For many, a relationship with the Trump administration has been a delicate dance: They do not want to risk access to the American market, or raise the ire of the American president. But global leaders are warily watching the Trump administration’s take-it-or-leave-it approach to renegotiating its trade pacts with Canada, Mexico and South Korea. They have seen Mr. Trump scrap the global climate change accord, withdraw the United States from the United Nations compact on migration and refugees and criticize global institutions that the United States largely designed, like the United Nations, the World Trade Organization and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. In Davos, at a forum long considered the center for globalization, the administration’s America First message has not been entirely well received.”

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