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Economic priorities of the incoming administration of United States (US) President-elect Donald Trump resonate those of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s, the country’s trade chief learned at an informal gathering of world economic leaders at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on 18 January.

“Trump, viewed by many as someone who talks straight and authentic, gets things done and does what’s good for his countrymen, were attributes mentioned of US President-elect Trump, and these sound familiar,” said Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez, indicating similarities with that of President Duterte.

In one of the early sessions that discussed the outlook of the Trump administration, Sec. Lopez observed that the US’ new economic priorities show congruence with President Duterte’s thrust to spur economic growth “resulting from domestic stimulus due to planned cuts in corporate and personal income tax to encourage reinvestments in research and development (R&D) and innovations, other tax reform measures, public and private investment in infrastructure and increased participation of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).”

“Main concerns are on perceptions that he would go back to trade protectionist stance. US leaders believe it is not protectionism per se but levelling playing field and adopting fair and market-based trade,” said Sec. Lopez.

Sec. Lopez pointed out that participants who know the President-elect more believe that US will not go down the path of anti-globalization, but will aim to level the playing field, including countering undue trade practices.

According to him, the new administration will place emphasis on trade enforcement as opposed to negotiating new trade agreements. The US withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and would like to review progress and effectiveness of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

"The US cannot simply cut itself off from the rest of the world as this will hurt not only its trading partners around the world but also the US itself, since world economies are so integrated,” said Sec. Lopez.

Participants believed that it is not a zero sum game, and that policies cannot be one sided only because they impact the whole world. Lopez made reference to an interconnected and integrated world economy.

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