President Trump has been taking a short tour of Asia this week, traveling to Japan, China, South Korea, and now Vietnam. He’s made plenty of waves overseas from proving the mainstream media is fake news (their “fishy” fish story), to getting the Chinese to fawn over he and his wife’s presence, but the most recent Trumpian maneuver may be his Trumpiest.
While in Vietnam speaking to gathered delegates from around the region (and the world), Trump promised our friends and our competitors alike that the United States would no longer allow itself to be taken advantage of. While pointedly saying that no offense has been taken and that we bear no one ill will, he argued that the USA would defend her interests far more vigorously from here on out.
“I do not blame China or any other country, of which there are many, for taking advantage of the U.S. on trade. If their representatives are able to get away with it, then they’re just doing their jobs. We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore. I am always going to put America first, the same way I expect all of you in this room to put your countries first. We must ensure that all play by the rules, which they do not right now. Those who do will be our closest partners. Those who do not can be certain that the United States will no longer turn a blind eye to violations, cheating or economic aggression. Those days are over.”
The President further assured the world that we have no desire to dictate how other nations should handle their business, nor do we have dreams of world domination, but we do demand to be treated fairly in future business dealings. The President made it clear that the age of American largesse to the trade community was over and that from here on out we would all be on equal footing in trade negotiations.
“We will not make decisions for the purpose of power or patronage. We will never ask our partners to surrender their sovereignty, intellectual property, or to limit contracts to state-owned suppliers. We will find opportunities for a private sector to work with yours and to create jobs and wealth for us all. We seek strong partners, not weak partners. We seek strong neighbors, not weak neighbors. Above all, we seek friendship, And we don’t dream of domination. We will no longer tolerate the audacious theft of intellectual property, we will confront the destructive practices of forcing businesses to surrender their technologies to the state and forcing them into joint ventures in exchange for market access.”
It was a powerful and necessary speech and one that will no doubt be remembered as an important turning point in American trade history.