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Davos speech America is ‘open for business’, Trump tells WEF

Trump tried to reassure the WEF audience that his protectionist vision 'does not mean America alone'

Trump tried to reassure the WEF audience his "America first" agenda also benefits the rest of the world

(Keystone)

United States President Donald Trump told World Economic Forum (WEF) delegates on Friday that America is “open for business” under his leadership, while reassuring the audience that "America First does not mean America alone”. 

In his highly-anticipated keynote speechexternal link, Trump said he had come to the Swiss mountain resort of Davos to deliver a simple message. 

“It has never been a better time to hire, to build, to invest and grow in the United States,” he declared. “America is open for business and we are competitive again.” 

He proceeded to vaunt the successes of the US economy and markets, saying the US had created $7 trillion in new wealth and 2.4 million new jobs since he became president in 2017. Trump also outlined his work to overhaul the US tax system and cut regulations. 

“I believe in America. As president of the United States, I will always put America First. Just like the leaders of other countries should put their country first. But America First does not mean America alone,” he said. 

He later moved on to demand tougher enforcement of trade rules, accusing unidentified countries of unfair practices, including stealing intellectual property and providing state aid to industry. 

"We will enforce our trade laws and restore integrity to the trading system. Only by insisting on fair and reciprocal trade can we create a system that works not just for the United States but for all nations," Trump said. 

"The United States will no longer turn a blind eye to unfair trade practices.” 

His long-awaited 30-minute speech received a muted response and polite applause from the 1,500-strong audience packed into the conference hall. During a question-and-answer session with the forum's founder Klaus Schwab, Trump said that it wasn't until he became a politician that he realised "how nasty, how mean, how vicious and how fake the press can be”. His comment prompted some boos and hisses in the room. 

Meetings with counterparts 

Trump was the first US president to attend the summit since Bill Clinton in 2000. On Thursday, he held meetings with British Prime Minister Theresa May and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He also attended a reception in his honour and had dinner with European business executives from firms such as Nestlé, ABB and Novartis, in the interest of encouraging them to invest in the US. 

On Friday, Trump held meetings with Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Swiss President Alain Berset, who described their talk as productive and frank. 

Their discussions centred on economic questions and international concerns like North Korea and the importance of International Geneva, not just for Switzerland but also to support dialogue.  

The US President said his trip to WEF had been "exciting" and that he was bringing "good will" back to the United States. 

For his part, Berset welcomed Trump, saying he appreciated his attendance in Davos and their “excellent” bilateral meeting. 

His attendance in Davos has been the subject of much debate in Switzerland, as well as protests by anti-capitalist groups, leftwing parties and trade unions.

SDA-ATS/WEF/sb

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