Trump’s for­eign poli­cies can hurt, help his busi­ness

Kuwait Times - - ANALYSIS -

Any moves by Don­ald Trump to ban Mus­lims from en­ter­ing the United States or bring back wa­ter­board­ing to in­ter­ro­gate sus­pects could have reper­cus­sions for some of his sprawl­ing for­eign busi­ness in­ter­ests - from his golf course in Scot­land to lux­ury re­sorts in In­done­sia. A re­view of press re­leases pub­lished on the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion web­site shows that 15 of 25 new ac­qui­si­tions or joint ven­tures an­nounced over the past five years were over­seas. These in­clude the pur­chase of golf cour­ses in Ire­land and Scot­land and deals to li­cense his name to de­vel­op­ers and man­u­fac­tur­ers in Dubai, In­done­sia, In­dia, Azer­bai­jan, Brazil, Mex­ico and Panama.

The deals un­der­score the po­ten­tial con­flicts of in­ter­est Trump will face af­ter he is sworn in as pres­i­dent on Jan. 20 and his vul­ner­a­bil­ity to crit­i­cism that he is open to for­eign in­flu­ence. For­eign gov­ern­ments could po­ten­tially seek to ex­ploit Trump’s busi­ness in­ter­ests to af­fect his de­ci­sion mak­ing, or to pun­ish him through his pocket book for de­ci­sions they ob­ject to. Trump’s tran­si­tion team de­clined to com­ment for this story.

In the 16 months to May, Trump earned up to $23 mil­lion from li­cens­ing his name to de­vel­op­ers in emerg­ing mar­kets, ac­cord­ing to a fil­ing with the US Of­fice of Govern­ment Ethics. “The li­cens­ing deals are the best of all be­cause there’s no risk,”Trump told Reuters in an in­ter­view in June. “I have 121 deals right now, go­ing for­ward, right now, 121, all over the world, in China, in In­done­sia,” he added. Trump has said he will hand con­trol of his com­pany to his chil­dren. How­ever, when he met with his In­dian busi­ness part­ners last week it prompted a cho­rus of crit­i­cism that the wall be­tween Trump and his com­pany was still too por­ous. The Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion has said a busi­ness struc­ture will be set up that com­plies with “all ap­pli­ca­ble rules and reg­u­la­tions.” Trump has yet to com­mit to set­ting up a blind trust that would for­mally sever his ties with his busi­ness. “I’m very con­fi­dent he’s not breaking any laws,” Kellyanne Con­way, a se­nior ad­viser to Trump, told re­porters at Trump Tower in New York on Mon­day. Trump could face a back­lash against his busi­ness in­ter­ests in Mid­dle Eastern and Asian mar­kets if he fol­lows through with his cam­paign prom­ise to ban Mus­lims from en­ter­ing the United States, and con­tin­ues to be open to restor­ing wa­ter­board­ing - a form of in­ter­ro­ga­tion widely viewed as tor­ture - or cre­at­ing a na­tional reg­istry for Mus­lims, an­a­lysts said. “If the Mus­lim reg­istry is in­tro­duced, he will have se­ri­ous is­sues find­ing Mus­lim lo­cal part­ners,” said Pro­fes­sor Koen Pauwels, a mar­ket­ing spe­cial­ist at Ozye­gin Univer­sity, Is­tan­bul. There would be a “back­lash” if Trump sub­stan­tially tight­ens visa re­stric­tions on Mus­lim vis­i­tors, Pauwels added.

In De­cem­ber 2015, Trump’s anti-Mus­lim com­ments cost him busi­ness in the Mid­dle East when a ma­jor chain of depart­ment stores halted sales of his glitzy “Trump Home” line of lamps, mir­rors and jew­elry boxes in the re­gion. Trump has long iden­ti­fied the Mid­dle East as a ma­jor growth mar­ket, and his com­pany is work­ing with Dubai-based real es­tate gi­ant DA­MAC Prop­er­ties to build two golf clubs - in­clud­ing one with a course de­signed by Tiger Woods - and a gated is­land com­mu­nity out­side the city. His daugh­ter Ivanka said last year the or­ga­ni­za­tion was in talks on deals in Qatar and Saudi Ara­bia.

Trump has a li­cens­ing deal with a de­vel­oper for a Trump-branded re­tail com­plex in Is­tan­bul. He also has signed deals in In­done­sia, the world’s most pop­u­lous Mus­lim coun­try, to put his name on a re­de­vel­oped lux­ury golf re­sort in Java and a lux­ury cliff-top ho­tel and res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment in Bali. And it is not just in the Mid­dle East that Trump could face reper­cus­sions for any for­eign pol­icy de­ci­sions.

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