Well, what a January it’s been. Fresh off the heels of a 2016 that oozed theatre, the first month of 2017 has proved to be no less fascinating. Predictably, there’s only one talking point on everybody’s lips.
On the 21st of last month, Donald Trump was officially inaugurated as the President of the United States, and it has become clear within the space of little more than a week that all of those controversial, and in some instances ludicrous, statements he made on the road to the White House… well, he meant them.
The Mexican wall will be built, and he intends to make the Mexicans pay for it through the imposition of a 20% border wall tax on all Mexican imports. And whilst we’re on the topic of protectionist policy, President Trump has also launched a volley of hostile statements and tweets at China threatening to impose heavy tariffs on Chinese manufactured goods – the first salvo no doubt of a tit-for-tat trade war which will inevitably erupt in response. Then there’s the 90-day travel ban on anybody born from a number of Middle Eastern countries, and the looming threat of mass deportations of the 11 million Mexican immigrants who moved to America for a better life – all part of a new immigration policy which is not without a sense of irony, coming from a country which wouldn’t exist as we know it were it not for immigrants. Naturally, the world has united in outrage, and even the originally pro-Trump markets are now a tad jittery about what the future holds.
By all intents and purposes, the liberal world order that has existed since the end of World War II, and the move toward a world of free-trade between multilateral trading blocs is dead in the water. The new Trump administration saw to that when it pulled the plug on American membership of the far-reaching TTIP.
The world is on the cusp of great change, for better or ill, especially for the business community. Ladies and gentlemen, put on your helmets – it’s going to be an interesting four years.