US President Donald Trump’s advance guard at Davos launched a strong defence of America’s approach to tax and trade, saying what’s good for the US is good for the global economy.
Former Bank of Ireland director and shareholder Wilbur Ross, who is now the US Trade Secretary, along with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Tom Bossert, the US Homeland Security Adviser held a press conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, ahead of the president's arrival on Friday.
The event moved markets, sending the dollar lower in currency trading. That was after Steven Mnuchin said: “A weaker dollar is good for us as it related to trade and opportunities.”
Donald Trump will be the first sitting US president to attend the event since Bill Clinton in 2000, although US corporations and academics tend to play an outsized role here, and the language of the conference is unambiguously American tinged English.
"The size of (official US) delegation to Davos this year is testament to the scale of Trump's work over the past year," Steven Mnuchin.
He effectively dismissed a move here last night by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who wants to push ahead with a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) taking in much of Asia and the Americas into a trade area without the US.
The US will instead back one-to-one trade deals, Steven Mnuchin said.
"We are fans of bilateral trading agreements. We believe in free and fair trade. Anyone who wants to do trade with us reciprocal basis is free to do it. We're looking to increase exports."
Wilbur Ross, the Wall Street investors who turned a massive profit buying Bank of Ireland shares at the bottom of the market and selling them on in the early stages of the Irish recovery also backed a more restrictive approach to trade deals.
"Protections are essential to having markets operate properly, to have everyone play by the rules," he said.
"Trade wars are fought every single day. Unfortunately every single day there are various parties violating the rules and taking advantage. There have always been trade wars: the difference now is US troops are now coming to the ramparts,” Mr Ross added.
The dollar weakened after the comments, in particular a statement by Steven Mnuchin that a weak dollar was good for the US.
No race to the bottom
Mnuchin closes the press conference by saying that America's protectionist policies are not a race to the bottom. "We want US companies to be able to compete fairly," he says.
Mnuchin has said previously that Trump, who is delivering the keynote speech on Friday, will likely push for "reciprocal" free trade. The president will "talk a lot about his economic programme and the impact on the global economy."
"What we know is that the economy that's good for the US is good for the rest of the world," the secretary said.
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