DAVOS, Switzerland — President Trump arrived at the World Economic Forum in this Alpine resort Thursday to sell his “America First” policies to a skeptical audience of global elites pushing a “World First” agenda.
Trump swept into the main conference hall at Davos, trailed by an entourage of U.S. and European officials. An eager crowd of up to 300 people watched from a small area near a staircase they were restricted to.
” Are you gong to be received well?” a journalist asked Trump as he headed for a bilateral meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May.
“Look at this crowd,” Trump shouted back. “I already am.”
— Kim Hjelmgaard (@khjelmgaard) January 25, 2018
Trump said before leaving Washington that his goal at the event is “to tell the world how great America is and is doing. Our economy is now booming and with all I am doing, will only get better…Our country is finally WINNING again!”
Syrian filmmaker Feras Fayyad, whose Last Men in Aleppo is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, told USA TODAY that there is great anticipation about Trump’s speech Friday because there is always a “kind of explosion” in his addresses.
“He says things that many people are thinking, things that are hidden under our skins and that we are scared about — and in doing so he exposes moral questions,” said Fayyad, whose film was shown to delegates Wednesday evening.
Trump will join a large U.S. delegation already making waves. U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told reporters Thursday that America is “more interested” in bilateral trade deals than multilateral ones — stoking fears that Trump’s vow to renegotiate international agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Mexico and Canada may not go well.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin repeated comments that the U.S. is “not concerned” about the value of the dollar in the short-term. Mnuchin sparked a large dollar sell-off Wednesday when he said the recent fall in the value of the dollar was “good” for trade because it makes U.S. exports less expensive.
Other world leaders here, anticipating that Trump would promote his protectionist trade and isolationist foreign policy views, stressed the importance of free trade and globalization in their remarks.
“We know all too well that we live in a world where isolation trends are gaining ground, but we all know that protectionism is not a solution,” Brazil’s President Michel Temer said.
China, which often is accused of protectionism to shield its domestic market, also boasted of its globalist credentials.
“Over the past year…China has stood firm against all forms of protectionism,” Liu He, a top economic policy official said. “We have broadened access to our financial markets and taken the initiative to increase imports.”
European leaders will be out in force at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week to defend multilateralism before U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to deliver his “America First” message. As Sonia Legg reports, politicians, business chiefs, bankers and celebrities will meet in the Swiss Alps under the banner “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World” for the four-day gathering against an unsettling global backdrop. Video provided by Reuters Newslook
In an open letter to forum attendees, the CEO of a South African business group urged participants to boycott Trump’s address because of his reported description of Haiti and some African nations as “shithole” countries whose immigrants should be barred from the U.S.
Bonang Mohale, of Business Leadership South Africa, wrote that the boycott was necessary to highlight that an alternative is needed to a “world where walls, disparagement and hate dominate the discourse of the leader of the United States.”
While here, Trump will also hold talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Contributing: Donna Leinwand Lege