Trump to push 'America First' agenda at the World Economic Forum

Trump to push 'America First' agenda at the World Economic Forum

Donald Trump has arrived at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, where he will push his "America First" agenda and seek more fair, reciprocal trade between the United States and its allies.


Key points:

  • Donald Trump is set to address the World Economic Forum on Friday (local time)
  • He is expected to showcase the booming US economy and stress the need for fair competition
  • He plans to meet with world leaders including the British Prime Minister and Rwandan President

Mr Trump, never invited as a businessman, will be the first US president to attend Davos since Bill Clinton in 2000, giving him a chance to mingle with the same elite "globalists" he bashed in the 2016 election campaign.

White House aides said Mr Trump's message would be the same that he has given during other trips aboard over the past year — the United States wants strong ties with its allies but wants to reduce chronic trade deficits with many of them.

"America first is not America alone," said White House senior economic adviser Gary Cohn, who is traveling with Mr Trump.

"When we grow, the world grows; when the world grows, we grow.

"We're part of it, and we're part of a world economy. And the President believes that."

In the run-up to his trip to Davos, Mr Trump slapped a 30 per cent tariff on imported solar panels, among the first unilateral trade restrictions imposed by the administration as part of a broader protectionist agenda.

"I'm going to Davos right now to get people to invest in the United States," Mr Trump said on Wednesday, before the overnight flight to Europe.

"I'm going to say: 'Come into the United States. You have plenty of money'.

"But I don't think I have to go, because they're coming, they're coming at a very fast clip."

In a tweet sent before departing the White House Mr Trump boasted about the US economy.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin got to Davos ahead of Mr Trump and insisted on Wednesday that the US supports free trade.

"America First does mean working with the rest of the world," Mr Mnuchin said.

"It just means that President Trump is looking out for American workers and American interests, no different than he expects other leaders would look out for their own."

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross argued that new US tariffs on imported solar-energy components and large washing machines were meant to deal with "inappropriate behaviour" by other countries and are not protectionist.

Still, Mr Ross conceded that China could respond by imposing its own tariffs on US products.

As he signed the tariffs, Mr Trump said he was heading to Davos to talk "about investing in the United States again".

Trump to showcase booming US economy

Mr Trump is set to address the forum on Friday. He is expected to showcase the booming US economy and measures like his recent tax overhaul, claiming that a thriving America benefits the world.

A vocal critic of trade deals he sees as unfair to the United States, Mr Trump will also stress the need for what he sees as fair competition.

Mr Mnuchin dismissed any concerns Mr Trump might get a cool reception.

"We don't have to worry about this crowd," he said.

During his two-day stop, the President will attend a reception in his honour, host European executives for dinner and meet with world leaders.

He plans to sit down with British Prime Minister Theresa May, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Swiss President Alain Berset and Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

The meeting with Mr Kagame comes not long after participants in a White House meeting said Mr Trump had referred to African nations as "shitholes".

Mr Trump also was criticised in Britain for retweeting videos from a far-right British group.

He has previously criticised London Mayor Sadiq Khan following a terror attack last year.

Mr Trump cancelled plans for a recent trip to London to open the new $1 billion US embassy there — a move that avoided protests promised by political opponents.

Mr Trump said he skipped the trip because he was unhappy with the new embassy's cost and location.

National Security Adviser HR McMaster said the US continued to have a "special relationship" with Britain.

AP/Reuters