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Trump takes ‘America First’ message to Davos elite

Kagame and Angola’s João Lourenço in Davos

– Trade troops deploying –

The Trump administration has repeatedly lashed out at allegedly unfair trade agreements and practices, and this week it targeted imports of solar panels and large washing machines, angering China and South Korea.

Soon after he took office, Trump announced the United States was pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreed in 2015 by a dozen nations that accounted for 40 percent of the global economy.

The remaining 11 countries announced Tuesday they would move forward with the deal without Washington.

Trump has also repeatedly threatened to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which is currently being renegotiated by its three participants — Canada, Mexico and the United States.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, speaking in Davos, staunchly defended the latest tariffs announcement.

The Trump administration is ready to do battle in trade if others fail to play fair, he said: “US troops are now coming to the ramparts.”

Top quotes on eve of Trump visit

Here is a serving of quotes from the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday, as anticipation grew for the arrival of US President Donald Trump.

“That’s a difficult case. It is very difficult to handle that kind of person because they have absolutely no consideration for others. They are so focussed on themselves that they do not listen.” — Matthieu Ricard, French Buddhist monk and author, on what he would say if he crossed paths at Davos with Donald Trump. Ricard has been encouraging stressed-out delegates to meditate.

“Obviously a weaker dollar is good for us, it’s good because it has to do with trade and opportunities.” — US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, in comments that sent the dollar plummeting and were seen as a green light from Washington to let the value of the greenback crumble to support US exports.

“Trade wars have been in place for quite a little while. The difference is the US troops are now coming to the ramparts.” — US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, staunchly defending new US tariffs on solar panels and large washing machines, which have angered China and South Korea.

“It’s so easy to launch a trade war, but it’s so difficult to stop the disaster of this war. Don’t use trade as a weapon, use trade as a solution to solve problems.” — Alibaba boss Jack Ma, a Davos regular, firing back at the Trump administration.

“I will be glad to see the Lady May, because Margaret Thatcher was good to us. May is good to us, all the British male prime ministers were not.” — Zimbabwe’s new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, ahead of bilateral talks on Thursday with British Prime Minister Theresa May.

“Please… do not pity me, I’m not to be pitied.” — German Chancellor Angela Merkel, responding to concern by World Economic Forum head Klaus Schwab, as the woman who was once Europe’s unrivalled leader struggles to form a coalition government in Berlin.

“France is back at the core of Europe.” — French President Emmanuel Macron, speaking in English, before switching to French to outline his vision of a new “social compact” for globalisation.



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