President Trump sharpened his break with the international community at the World Economic Forum on Tuesday, boasting about fossil fuel production and American economic success at a summit dedicated to combating climate change and fostering global cooperation.
Trump cited positive economic statistics (a rising stock market, a low unemployment record and factory openings) that he hopes will increase his chances of reelection and overshadow the trial by Senate political trial in Washington.
“Today I am proud to declare that the United States is in the midst of an economic boom like the world has never seen before,” he said in statements that often sounded more like a campaign speech than a speech to world leaders. .
Although the US economy UU. It is surpassing other advanced economies, many of which are struggling, few economists would call it a boom.
US employment growth has been resilient, but national manufacturing is in recession and business investment has been slow. And overall economic growth in the United States is expected to slow down further this year to around 2%, similar to the moderate pace during most of the economic recovery under President Obama.
The audience politely applauded Trump, particularly when he supported a new international goal of planting 1 billion trees worldwide. But the commitment was overshadowed by its promotion of the extraction of “traditional fuels,” such as coal and natural gas, which have contributed to global warming.
Although the conference was flooded with anxiety over rising nationalism and climate change, Trump ignored the concerns and seemed to suggest that increasing wealth would solve all problems.
“We must reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse,” Trump said. “They are the heirs of the foolish fools of yesterday.”
But his speech put the president out of sync with the rest of the summit’s goals.
“He flew in front of everything Davos is trying to talk about,” said Sanjay Nazerali, director of global strategy for Dentsu Aegis Network, an international marketing company based in London.
He described Trump’s speech as a “hymn to nationalism” at a time when leaders discussed collaborative solutions to problems such as climate change that transcend borders and internal politics.
“Which nation is going to save the polar caps?” He asked.
Other speakers warned of economic and environmental crises on the horizon.
“The world is in a state of emergency, and the window to act is closing,” said Klaus Schwab, a German engineer and economist who founded the World Economic Forum.
Simonetta Sommaruga, president of Switzerland, expressed alarm about the effects of climate change. as global temperatures rise.
“The world is on fire,” he said. “We see the rainforest burning in the Amazon and forest fires in Australia.”
A star attraction in Davos has been Greta Thunberg, the 17-year-old Swedish climate activist. In his speech, he said that “virtually nothing” had been done to stop global warming despite all the discussions about the problem.
“Without treating it as a real crisis, we can’t solve it,” he said before Trump spoke.
Trump’s comments made some business leaders sigh for earlier versions of American leadership.
“The United States used to be a fantastic world leader,” said John Neill, head of the Unipart Group, a British manufacturing and logistics company.
“We are trying to move to a more inclusive and collaborative world,” he said. “Promoting their own country is not in complete conflict, but there was a contrast with the Chinese, who seem more inclined to try to embrace the global agenda for mutual benefit.”
In fact, Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng pronounced an ode to globalization, with a veiled veil in Trump’s punishing trade war with China. Although tariffs remain in force, tensions have decreased since both parties signed a preliminary agreement last week.
“Despite the protectionist and unilateral movements of some countries,” he said, “China will not stop opening and we will not follow in its steps to move in the opposite direction.”
Although Trump considers himself an international tycoon, he has never felt completely comfortable with economists, celebrities and other people who come to this dazzling Swiss ski resort every winter to find solutions to global problems.
The conference center itself was a monument to several problems that Trump had ignored or rejected, with carpets made from recycled fishing nets and the type of low-power lighting Trump has mocked in the past.
Trump’s trip to Davos is his second, a surprising return commitment considering that he ran for office by denouncing the globalists and former presidents mostly rejected the meeting.
He seemed anxious to claim the crowd over his economic policies, saying: “The time of skepticism is over.”
He received some support from the International Monetary Fund, which predicted that global growth would reach 3.3% this year, partly due to the relaxation of Trump’s trade war with China. That is a 2.9% increase last year, the worst year for the world economy since the Great Recession from 2007 to 2009.
At least some attendees seemed to have gotten used to Trump.
Ian Bremmer, head of the Eurasia Group, a political risk consulting firm based in New York, said there was “zero panic” for Trump to win another term in the White House.
“They like regulatory reversal, they like their cabinet, they like their fiscal policy,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg Television.
But Chad Bown, a member of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said any acceptance was more like a relief that Trump’s trade policies had not been more destructive.
“Their policies have been extraordinarily harmful,” he said, “and there is a universal consensus on that outside of a small group of people in the United States.”
Trump did not mention his accusation during his speech, but briefly reiterated his complaints about the process before entering the main hall.
“It’s just a hoax. It’s the witch hunt that has been going on for years,” he told reporters.
Staff writer Don Lee contributed from Washington.