His talk may be dif­fer­ent to ac­tion

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Thomas Black and Matthew Camp­bell

EX­EC­U­TIVES at the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum keep re­peat­ing, like a sooth­ing mantra, that Don­ald Trump is at heart a prag­ma­tist who will avoid trade wars and reg­u­la­tions that make it harder to do busi­ness.

“What some­body’s say­ing is not nec­es­sar­ily what they are go­ing to do,” said David Cote, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Honey­well In­ter­na­tional.

He should hope so: Honey­well is a man­u­fac­tur­ing gi­ant with far more em­ploy­ees out­side the US than in. It has made ma­jor bets on projects like sup­ply­ing parts for China’s first com­mer­cial jet.

With stock mar­kets near­ing record highs and busi­ness friendly fig­ures like bil­lion­aire in­vestor Wil­bur Ross named to the cabi­net, a con­vic­tion has set in that a man who came to power as an anti-estab­lish­ment pop­ulist might in fact usher in a golden age for busi­ness.

“In the end if he knows the facts, he will re­spond ac­cord­ing to the facts,” said Hideaki Omiya, chair­man of Mit­subishi Heavy In­dus­tries.

The stakes are high for com­pa­nies that have pros­pered dur­ing the era of glob­al­i­sa­tion, lo­cat­ing fac­to­ries where labour’s cheap and find­ing sup­pli­ers that can of­fer com­po­nents at the most com­pet­i­tive prices. Trump has crit­i­cised the ar­range­ments that make those in­te­grated op­er­a­tions pos­si­ble, call­ing the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment – which has al­lowed car mak­ers like Ford Mo­tor Corporation to build sup­ply chains span­ning the length of the con­ti­nent – a “dis­as­ter.”

Dur­ing his cam­paign, Trump blasted the mul­ti­lat­eral eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal or­der, say­ing China, the most im­por­tant US trad­ing part­ner, had been al­lowed “to rape our coun­try.” – Bloomberg

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