Trump at Davos: America first amid Swiss protests

Trump spoke about the strength of the US economy at Davos, as protesters and professors disputed his rhetoric.

U.S. President Trump attends the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos
Trump said the US had a "spirit" he had "never witnessed" as the stock market continues to rise [Carlos Barria/Reuters]

US President Donald Trump said on Friday that America would come “first” but would not be “alone” during a speech at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.

By welcoming foreign investors to continue pouring money into the US, which is “open for business” under the businessman-turned-president, Trump appeared to soften the populist-isolationist rhetoric for which he is known.

While his remarks may have calmed investors, sections of the Swiss public were still upset. The remarks came amid continuing protests against Trump and world capitalism at several sites in Switzerland. 

Wednesday saw roughly 20 demonstrators break through security at the Davos Congress Centre where they held signs reading ‘Wipe out WEF’.

In Zurich, demonstrators held signs saying “No Trump, no coal, no gas, no fossil fuels” as they marched through the city’s financial district.

In Geneva, protesters placed a memorial wreathe for Heather Heyer, a counterprotester killed by a white nationalist at a US far-right rally in August, at the entrance of the US diplomatic mission.

Friday remained relatively quiet.

Protester rally against the attendance of Trump at the upcoming Davos World Economic Forum [Philippe Desmazes/AFP]
Protester rally against the attendance of Trump at the upcoming Davos World Economic Forum [Philippe Desmazes/AFP]

Trump extolled the strength of the US economy under his presidency. “I’ve always been very successful at making money,” the president claimed, going on to say the stock market was up 50 percent.

If his 2016 presidential opponent Hillary Clinton had won, Wall Street would be “down close to 50 percent”, Trump said. Removing regulations has been a boon to the US economy, the president continued. 

Professor Juan Cole, a visiting professor at Qatar University, told Al Jazeera that a strong stock market doesn’t necessarily help the US.

“Only 50 percent of the American public has any kind of relationship to the stock market and a lot of that is through pensions,” Cole said.

There is also a troubling aspect of the economy’s strong performance, Cole said. After the economic crash of 2008 and 2009, for the average US citizens there has been “a recovery,” but “it’s been a weak recovery”.

The strength of the stock market in relation shows that US politicians and “world politicians haven’t really changed the rules for the investment world in a way that would prevent another such crash,” Cole said.

Furthermore, the regulations Trump has removed mostly deal with the environment, so natural resources will reach new levels of pollution, which will make “people sick,” Cole said.

For his part, Trump was happy about his performance as the leader of the US government. “It was time,” for him to be president, Trump claimed.

Citizens of the US are less enthused. The Gallup ratings agency that tracks presidential approval ratings claims pegged support for Trump’s job at 36 percent of the country as of January 21, while 59 percent of US voters disapproved.


Source: Al Jazeera