The Latest Thinking

With a note of caution, global experts offer their advice to the White House.

The Second Hundred Days: Now It Gets Interesting

Australia would love to see a solid framework for global order. Europeans want more cooperation on the digital economy. And in South America, one expert would like President Trump to pay some attention to Brazil—and vacation there.

The new administration certainly can’t be accused of making the first hundred days in office boring. But while Supreme Court picks and border walls keeps pundits and the populace entranced at home, the rest of the world tends to have a broader perspective. Sure, much of what has occurred in the president’s first hundred days in office has many international leaders nervous, but many experts think the second hundred and beyond takes on greater importance. “It will take a while for Trump to get his team into place and to get the agenda set,” says Andrew Tabler, a fellow in Arab politics at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

But when the president does, what do experts on global affairs—from Paris to Perth—think the White House should do?

----------

Philippe Dessertine
Professor, Sorbonne Graduate Business School, University of Paris, Pantheón Sorbonne

One word: Cooperation.

The New Digital Economy: The biggest issue of the day, says Dessertine, is the “very big switch in global economic models,” from a focus on industry growth and protectionism to now “technologies and digitalization.” Businesses need time to adjust, so the U.S. should adopt a “policy of cooperation” to help with the transition.

International Monetary Policy: Dessertine also believes there is a need for the creation of a “framework around the financial economy.” Much like right after World War II, when there was a cooperative effort to rebuild, “we have a moment now where we need to have new global cooperation for financial and monetary policy.” Without one, he doesn’t believe it will be possible, for example, for decisions to be made on interest-rate policies or to avoid currency wars.

Russia: Dessertine says that “almost every day there are incidents along the borders” of Russia and Europe. This military tension, he says, is a sign of Russia testing the Western world. “So when there is a possibility of discussions going on between the Russian and U.S. presidents, that is a big danger in Europe,” he says.

----------

Andrew Tabler
Fellow in the Program on Arab Politics, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy

Watch for a shift with Iran and pro-business policies.

ISIS and Iran: Tabler believes Trump will prioritize fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq in the second hundred days, along with a move to combat other extremist groups in the region, such as Al Qaeda affiliates. That focus, he says, will create key policy changes that could impact countries from Tunisia to Turkey. Another key issue to watch: Iran and nuclear weapons. “I don’t think Iran is going to get the same kid-gloves treatment it has received under Obama,” predicts Tabler. He even says it may be possible that Iran could be more interested in dealing with Trump than they were with Obama.

Energy: The pro-business Trump administration should ensure that business continues as usual, Tabler says. Still, U.S. energy policy will have a huge impact on the region. Expanding domestic oil production would make the already low price of oil go even lower. That, in turn, could aggravate the Arab Gulf countries, and bring into question to what degree the U.S. is allied with Qatar and Saudi Arabia on the question of oil.

----------

Pedro Spadale
Undersecretary for International Relations, State of Rio de Janeiro

Make us a priority.

Foreign Direct Investment: For Latin America, and the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro, business with the U.S. is critical. “The U.S. is the principal economic partner of Rio de Janeiro State,” points out Spadale. Even with its troubled economy, Rio still attracts $80 billion in foreign direct investment, with most of that coming from the U.S.—so Spadale is hoping Trump addresses U.S. business policy there ASAP.

Trade: Concerned about possible trade restrictions, Spadale hopes Trump will organize a meeting between Brazilian commercial leaders and U.S. policymakers to discuss priorities for the region. “The priorities of the U.S. right now are more focused on other regions, and the U.S. has not really designed a proper plan for its relationship with Brazil,” he says.

Tourism: Spadale also hopes that Trump builds on Rio’s Olympic moment to help increase tourism to the city, where Trump has already invested in hotels. “It would be great for him to come down here for a weekend holiday,” he says.

----------

Melissa Conley Tyler
National Executive Director, Australian Institute of International Affairs

Don’t annoy our biggest partner.

Alliances: Once friendly, Australia-U.S. relations took a hit the moment President Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had that first controversial phone call. “Trump’s presidency has brought great uncertainty to the relationship,” says Conley Tyler. But the biggest issue for Australia is actually over its biggest business partner, China. “A trade war between the U.S. and China would be catastrophic,” she says. Any open conflict is a “nightmare scenario for Australia,” and exactly the sort of second-hundred-day development the country will be “working to avoid with whatever influence it has.”

Rules of Engagement: “As a middle power—as our foreign secretary described it, a country that can neither bully nor bribe to get its way—Australia relies on a framework of rules and institutions for global order,” says Conley Tyler. If the United States’ post-World War II support for this order can no longer be taken for granted, “Australia faces a harder road.”

----------

Wan Saiful Wan Jan
Chief Executive, Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs

Beware of protectionist policies.

Trade: If U.S.-China relations become “more confrontational” via hawkish policies put in place in the second hundred days, business as usual between Asia and the U.S. will be harder to maintain, says Wan Saiful, who is based in Malaysia. “There will come a time when we will have to take sides,” he says. “If the U.S. does become more protectionist, it is going to be a very new dynamic for us here.”

Restrictions on Muslims: Wan Saiful says Trump’s controversial policies around Muslims entering the U.S. may have a direct impact on the future business community in Asia. Malaysia—home to 20 million Muslims—sends thousands of students to study in the U.S. each year, some of whom return years later to the C-suites back home. Wan Saiful notes that new Trump administration policies could mean that Chinese students, many of whom are not Muslim, may gain a competitive advantage via their ability to study in the U.S. if their Muslim Malaysian counterparts cannot.

Authors

  • Shannon Sims

    Contributor, Korn Ferry Institute