‘America First policy not America alone’, Trump says at #WEF2018

President Donald Trump at World Economic Forum, Davos says its US first in trade matters

President Donald Trump has told global finance leaders he will always put the US first when it comes to trade, but “that does not mean America alone”.

“The US is open for business,” he said in his inaugural address to the World Economic Forum in Davos on Friday.

But he continued to attack “predatory” trade practices, warning partners that the US would not tolerate unfair trade.

Mr Trump’s election campaign centred on America First, aiming to protect local manufacturers from foreign competition.

This policy appeared to contradict the Davos conference’s goal of promoting globalisation and co-operation.

Trump lauded the economic achievements of his first year in office, including cutting corporation tax and lowering the unemployment rate, and said the US was more attractive than ever to foreign investment.

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“I’m here to deliver a simple message – there has never been a better time to hire, to build, to invest and to grow in the United States. America is open for business and we are competitive once again,” he said.

Taking credit for the strong economy in the US, he urged foreign investors to “bring your money, your jobs, your businesses to America”.

As he was speaking, latest figures for US economic growth were released, showing a slowdown in growth from 3.2% to 2.6% in the final quarter of last year. This meant annual growth for 2017 was 2.3%, up from 1.5% in 2016 but below the president’s 3% target.

The US president demanded a reformed international trade system that was “fair and reciprocal” and accused unidentified countries of unfair practices, including “massive intellectual property theft” and providing state aid to industry.

Mr Trump also said he preferred bilateral fair trade agreements with other countries, including those signed up to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) from which he has withdrawn. He said he would consider negotiating with TPP states collectively, if it was in America’s interest.

Some attendees booed when he attacked the media and repeated accusations of them reporting “fake news” in a question and answer session after his address.

“As a businessman I was always treated really well by the press… and it wasn’t until I became a politician that I realised how nasty, how mean, how vicious and how fake the press can be,” he said.

The BBC’s Katie Hope, who attended the speech, says anticipation was high but the audience’s response was rather muted with some expecting a more conciliatory tone.

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