Trump on chemistry and his progress

Donald Trump has just had an interview with Associated Press. There are gems in it for both fans and critics.

Chemistry with leaders:

TRUMP: Yeah, it’s funny: One of the best chemistries I had was with (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel.

(Crosstalk) AP: Really?

TRUMP: Chancellor Merkel.

TRUMP: And I guess somebody shouted out, “Shake her hand, shake her hand,” you know. But I never heard it. But I had already shaken her hand four times. You know, because we were together for a long time.

AP: Did you expect you would have good chemistry with her?

TRUMP: No. Because, um, I’m at odds on, you know, the NATO payments and I’m at odds on immigration. We had unbelievable chemistry. And people have given me credit for having great chemistry with all of the leaders, including el-Sissi. …

TRUMP: So it was a great thing to see that happen.

On the first 100 days and chemistry with leaders:

AP: Do you feel like you have changed the office of the presidency, how the presidency can be used to effect change?

TRUMP: I think the 100 days is, you know, it’s an artificial barrier. It’s not very meaningful. I think I’ve established amazing relationships that will be used the four or eight years, whatever period of time I’m here. I think for that I would be getting very high marks because I’ve established great relationships with countries, as President el-Sissi has shown and others have shown.

Well, if you look at the president of China, people said they’ve never seen anything like what’s going on right now. I really liked him a lot. I think he liked me. We have a great chemistry together. …

On troops in Syria and chemistry:

AP: Should Americans who are serving in the military expect that you are going to increase troop numbers in the Middle East to fight ISIS?

TRUMP: No, not much.

AP: In terms of the strategy, though, that you have accepted, it sounds like, from the generals —

TRUMP: Well, they’ve also accepted my strategy.

AP: Does that involve more troops on the ground, it sounds like?

TRUMP: Not many.

AP: So a small increase?

TRUMP: It could be an increase, then an increase. But not many more. I want to do the job, but not many more. … This is an important story. I’ve done a lot. I’ve done more than any other president in the first 100 days and I think the first 100 days is an artificial barrier. And I’m scheduled … the foundations have been set to do some great things. With foreign countries. Look at, look at President Xi. I mean …

AP: What do you think it was about your chemistry?

TRUMP: We had good chemistry. Now I don’t know that I think that’s going to produce results but you’ve got a good chance.

AP: Uh-huh.

TRUMP: Look, he turned down many coal ships. These massive coal ships are coming where they get a lot of their income. They’re coming into China and they’re being turned away. That’s never happened before. The fuel, the oil, so many different things. You saw the editorial they had in their paper saying they cannot be allowed to have nuclear, you know, et cetera. People have said they’ve never seen this ever before in China. We have the same relationship with others. There’s a great foundation that’s built. Great foundation. And I think it’s going to produce tremendous results for our country.

Claims by Trump of great chemistry should be taken with a grain of sodium chloride.

On his biggest success so far.

AP: So in terms of the 100-day plan that you did put out during the campaign, do you feel, though, that people should hold you accountable to this in terms of judging success?

TRUMP: No, because much of the foundation’s been laid. Things came up. I’ll give you an example. I didn’t put Supreme Court judge on the 100 (day) plan, and I got a Supreme Court judge.

AP: I think it’s on there.

TRUMP: I don’t know. …

AP: “Begin the process of selecting.” You actually exceeded on this one. This says, “Begin the process of selecting a replacement.”

TRUMP: That’s the biggest thing I’ve done.

AP: Do you consider that your biggest success?

TRUMP: Well, I — first of all I think he’s a great man. I think he will be a great, great justice of the Supreme Court. I have always heard that the selection and the affirmation of a Supreme Court judge is the biggest thing a president can do. Don’t forget, he could be there for 40 years. … He’s a young man. I’ve always heard that that’s the biggest thing. Now, I would say that defense is the biggest thing. You know, to be honest, there are a number of things. But I’ve always heard that the highest calling is the nomination of a Supreme Court justice. I’ve done one in my first 70 days.

TRUMP: Our military is so proud. They were not proud at all. They had their heads down. Now they have their heads up. …

On the first 100 days and the size of government:

AP: Can I ask you, over your first 100 days — you’re not quite there yet — how do you feel like the office has changed you?

TRUMP: Well the one thing I would say — and I say this to people — I never realized how big it was. Everything’s so (unintelligible) like, you know the orders are so massive. I was talking to —

AP: You mean the responsibility of it, or do you mean —

TRUMP: Number One, there’s great responsibility. When it came time to, as an example, send out the 59 missiles, the Tomahawks in Syria. I’m saying to myself, “You know, this is more than just like, 79 (sic) missiles. This is death that’s involved,” because people could have been killed. This is risk that’s involved, because if the missile goes off and goes in a city or goes in a civilian area — you know, the boats were hundreds of miles away — and if this missile goes off and lands in the middle of a town or a hamlet …. every decision is much harder than you’d normally make. (unintelligible) … This is involving death and life and so many things. … So it’s far more responsibility. (unintelligible) ….The financial cost of everything is so massive, every agency. This is thousands of times bigger, the United States, than the biggest company in the world. The second-largest company in the world is the Defense Department. The third-largest company in the world is Social Security. The fourth-largest — you know, you go down the list.

AP: Right.

TRUMP. It’s massive. And every agency is, like, bigger than any company. So you know, I really just see the bigness of it all, but also the responsibility. And the human responsibility. You know, the human life that’s involved in some of the decisions.

On loving people and big responsibilities.

AP: What’s that switch been like for you?

TRUMP: In fact, in business you’re actually better off without it.

AP: What’s making that switch been like for you?

TRUMP: You have to love people. And if you love people, such a big responsibility. (unintelligible) You can take any single thing, including even taxes. I mean we’re going to be doing major tax reform. Here’s part of your story, it’s going to be a big (unintelligible). Everybody’s saying, “Oh, he’s delaying.” I’m not delaying anything. I’ll tell you the other thing is (unintelligible). I used to get great press. I get the worst press. I get such dishonest reporting with the media. That’s another thing that really has — I’ve never had anything like it before. It happened during the primaries, and I said, you know, when I won, I said, “Well the one thing good is now I’ll get good press.” And it got worse. (unintelligible) So that was one thing that a little bit of a surprise to me. I thought the press would become better, and it actually, in my opinion, got more nasty.

He’s still not big on the media.

AP: Obviously, that’s going to come in a week where you’re going to be running up against the deadline for keeping the government open. If you get a bill on your desk that does not include funding for the wall, will you sign it?

TRUMP: I don’t know yet. People want the border wall. My base definitely wants the border wall, my base really wants it — you’ve been to many of the rallies. OK, the thing they want more than anything is the wall. My base, which is a big base; I think my base is 45 percent. You know, it’s funny. The Democrats, they have a big advantage in the electoral college. Big, big, big advantage. I’ve always said the popular vote would be a lot easier than the electoral college. The electoral college — but it’s a whole different campaign (unintelligible). The electoral college is very difficult for a Republican to win, and I will tell you, the people want to see it. They want to see the wall, they want to see security. Now, it just came out that they’re 73 percent down. … That’s a tremendous achievement. … Look at this, in 100 days, that down to the lowest in 17 years and it’s going lower. Now, people aren’t coming because they know they’re not going to get through, and there isn’t crime. You know the migration up to the border is horrible for women, you know that? (Unintelligible.) Now, much of that’s stopped because they can’t get through.

AP: It sounds like maybe you’re beginning to send a message that if you do get a spending bill that doesn’t have border funding in there, you would sign it.

TRUMP: Well, first of all, the wall will cost much less than the numbers I’m seeing. I’m seeing numbers, I mean, this wall is not going to be that expensive.

AP: What do you think the estimate on it would be?

TRUMP: Oh I’m seeing numbers — $24 billion, I think I’ll do it for $10 billion or less. That’s not a lot of money relative to what we’re talking about. If we stop 1 percent of the drugs from coming in — and we’ll stop all of it. But if we stop 1 percent of the drugs because we have the wall — they’re coming around in certain areas, but if you have a wall, they can’t do it because it’s a real wall. That’s a tremendously good investment, 1 percent. The drugs pouring through on the southern border are unbelievable. We’re becoming a drug culture, there’s so much. And most of it’s coming from the southern border. The wall will stop the drugs.

The wall will not stop the drugs. Nothing has stopped the drugs, especially warring against them. The wall will be no different.

AP: This morning you tweeted that after the possible terrorist attack in Paris, that it will have a big effect on the upcoming French election. What did you mean by that?

TRUMP: Well, I think it will have a big effect on who people are going to vote for in the election.

AP: Do you think it’s going to help Marine Le Pen?

TRUMP: I think so.

AP: Do you believe that she should be the president?

TRUMP: No, I have no comment on that, but I think that it’ll probably help her because she is the strongest on borders and she is the strongest on what’s been going on in France.

AP: Do you worry at all that by saying that, that a terrorist attack would have an impact on a democratic election, that it would actually embolden terrorists to try to —.

TRUMP: No. Look, everybody is making predictions who is going to win. I am no different than you, you could say the same thing. …

AP: I just wonder if you are encouraging, you are the president of the United States, so to say that you worry that it encourages terrorists …

TRUMP: No, I am no different than — no, I think it discourages terrorists, I think it discourages. I think what we’ve done on the border discourages it. I think that my stance on having people come in to this country that we have no idea who they are and in certain cases you will have radical Islamic terrorism. I’m not going to have it in this country. I’m not going to let what happened to France and other places happen here. And it’s already largely, you know — we have tens — we have hundreds of thousands of people that have been allowed into our country that should not be here. They shouldn’t be here. We have people allowed into our country with no documentation whatsoever. They have no documentation and they were allowed under the previous administrations, they were allowed into our country. It’s a big mistake.

AP: Just so that I am clear. You are not endorsing her for the office, but you are —

TRUMP: I am not endorsing her and I didn’t mention her name.

AP: Right, I just wanted to make sure I have that clear.

TRUMP: I believe whoever is the toughest on radical Islamic terrorism and whoever is the toughest at the borders will do well at the election. I am not saying that person is going to win, she is not even favored to win, you know. Right now, she is in second place.

Without saying it outright he clearly seems to favour Le Pen and her policies.

China versus US on trade protectionism

Donald Trump has clearly signalled a far more protectionist stance on trade. He is scrapping the Trans Pacific Partnership, and wants to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

In his inauguration speech Trump said:

For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military; we’ve defended other nation’s borders while refusing to defend our own; and spent trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.

We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength, and confidence of our country has disappeared over the horizon.

One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions upon millions of American workers left behind.

The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed across the entire world.

But that is the past.

From this moment on, it’s going to be America First.

Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.

I will fight for you with every breath in my body — and I will never, ever let you down.

We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and hire American.

He followed that with “We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world” which may be a hard deal given his rhetoric on trade.

In contrast Chinese President Xi has recently talked in support of globalisation and against protectionism at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“Protectionism is like locking yourself in a dark room, which would seem to escape wind and rain, but also block out the sunshine. No one is a winner in a trade war.”

NZ Herald: China’s Xi warns against trade war in defense of globalisation

Xi used his speech to support a global economic order that has helped fuel China’s almost four-decade economic boom.

The Chinese president called on the world’s business and political elite to address the problems of globalisation, without turning away from economic trends that have fueled decades of growth.

Leaders should address the excesses of growth, such as growing wealth gaps, while embracing new industries and innovation, he said.

“There is no point in blaming economic globalization for the world’s problems because that is simply not the case, and that will not help to solve the problems.”

“The history of mankind has shown us that problems are not to be feared. What should concern us is the refusal to face up to the problems.”

Globalisation has lifted a huge number of people out of poverty in places like China and India, but it has created problems as Xi acknowledges.

With the US under Trump clamping down on trade agreements this will force China to look for other markets, and gives China an opportunity to become more dominant around the world.

More introspection and trade protection may work for the US,  and the world needs a healthy US economy, but the rest of the world may also learn to get by more with less US trade and influence.

In Communist China now more pro free trade than the US David Farrar says:

What a funny world where we live where the leader of the Communist Party of China is more pro free trade than the leader of the Republican Party of the United States.


It is a major turnaround, but i don’t know why one should be sad about it. When one door closes another opens – New Zealand has long experience with trying different trade doors.

It will be interesting to see how this pans out.

The importance of China

The importance to New Zealand trade is highlighted by a John Key led delegation currently visiting China.

Stacey Kirk writes: Suspicion and horse-trading with an economic super-power

Departing today, Key is leading a delegation of more than 40 of New Zealand’s top business men and women to China, with a heavy agricultural focus across both dairy and meat exports.

It’s a signal to a country that values one-on-one business, New Zealand has some serious issues it wants addressed.

An upgrade to our FTA with China is by no means a done deal. This journalist and the rest of the travelling press-pack will be gauging for any signs of progress – it could be slow.

This is just part of the dance to entice China to agree on a set of issues both countries could begin negotiating on.

Those include non-tariff barriers and improvements to our deal on dairy from our end, and extension to visa periods and tweaks to the overseas investment process on theirs.

There are a number of contentious issues including:

The forestry industry are perhaps most vocal about the issue of non-tariff barriers, earlier this year threatening WTO action for what it perceives to be China “acting outside the spirit of the FTA”.

Nearly every issue we deal with in China is contentious; the South China Sea, the extradition of economic criminals, non-tariff barriers and foreign investment.

The importance of China to New Zealand trade is obvious.

This will be Key’s sixth and longest visit to China, coming after Presidents Xi’s visit here in 2014, during which Key, his wife Bronagh, along with Xi and his wife enjoyed a private dinner.

It will be a challenging trip for Key – an editorial in a Chinese state run newspaper has publicly warned key off discussing political issues like the South China Sea – but he has the international experience and rapport to achieve results.

It’s hard to imagine Andrew Little, Winston Peters or James Shaw being greeted by Chinese leadership with as much respect.

Norman on China: Leader of Dissidents

Russel Norman was interviewed on Q & A yesterday.

What is your problem in general with Chinese trade?

Norman: Well I mean we basically you know New Zealand alonmg with you know Australia, Japan and a number of other countries through South East Asia, we’re trying to manage this relationship between these two superpowers, the United States and China.

Um and essentially the New Zealand Government strategy is to in a way head towards being a client state of the United States militarily so we align ourselves with the US militarily, and then being a client state of China economically, um so milk powder into China, and raw logs.

The problem is that’s quite a precarious situation to be in because of the tension between those superpowers, so our approach is we should have a much more independent foreign policy, and also that we need to diversify the New Zealand economy and invest far more in research and development and value add away from a simple commodity, milk powder into one market China which is a real danger to New Zealand.

Dumping China and the US and becoming major trading partners with the Dalai Lama may be a bit more precarious.

It would be ludicrous to not trade with a country because at some time in the future that market may diminish, that’s always a risk – and a far greater risk with vague “green economy” trade as proposed by the Greens.

We sell milk powder (and cheese and other milk products) all over the world. China is a major market but is far from the only market.

We are trying to improve diversification through trade agreements like the proposed TPPA but Greens strongly oppose that.

If you had the ability to change our relationship with China in any way how would you change it?

Norman: Well I think we need to change it in the sense I’ve just described which is investing in a much more diversified and resilient and broad based New Zealand economy, um so that we’re not just dependent on a single commodity into a single market.

We are not “just dependent on a single commodity into a single market”.

Is Norman suggesting we deliberately reduce our milk powder trade with China? He is vague.

I think it’s also important too that we speak out clearly on human rights and democracy issues.

I mean I’m sure President Xi is a nice guy but let’s remember he, you know there’s a seventy year old journalist called Gau Yu, um who’s locked up in China. She’s ah, for spreading state secrets which was that the Chinese Communist Party doesn’t like free speech. She was tortured in jail.

They took her son, and President Xi’s Government took her son, locked him up as well and said if you don’t give a false confession we’ll keep him in jail.

Um Liu Zaobo is a is a Nobel Peace Prize winner, he, President Xi has locked him up.

Should we halt all trade with any country who’s human, civil and human rights don’t meet the Green standard? That would have a massive impact on New Zealand trade and our economy.

Ah so I think you know there is a contest between democratic capitalism and authoritarian capitalism if you like, you know I think it’s very important that we speak out in favour of democracy because China is only going to become more influential.

Speaking out in favour of democracy is finer, but what would Norman change in our relationship with China other than protesting with words?

What struck me as very interesting in this visit by the Chinese delegation was that Andrew Little as leader of the Labour Party was meeting with the Chinese president, but you were meeting with the Tibetans. Is there a problem with your priorities here? Should you not be doing the same thing as Labour and saying that you’re on the same page?

Norman: Ah, well we’re obviously an independent political party so what Labour does is Labour’s business and what the Greens do is their business.

Does it not illustrate how difficult it’s going to be for you guys to work together?

Norman: No, so um in terms I would have been obviously perfectly happy to meet President Xi but President Xi did not wish to meet us, ah because he doesn’t like hearing dissident voices.

I mean in China he literally censors the Internet. I mean you know you’re not allowed to publish things on the Internet that are critical or President Xi, um you will be arrested if you do that.

And meeting Tibetans in an obvious demonstration would not help Greens get an audience with Xi in the future.

Parties that are in Government have to balance politics with diplomacy.

Norman wants to be seen as the Leader of the Opposition but if he effectively insults visiting presidents It’s difficult to see how he can be anything more than Leader of Dissidents.

So you know it’s the nature of their authoritarian regime that they don’t want to hear dissident voices and clearly the Greens who speak out in favour of human rights, democracy, Tibet, the Falon Gong, um all those basic democratic issues, he’s not interested in hearing our voice.

Being a proud and loud dissident is a choice the Greens can make for themselves, but it doesn’t seem very compatible with being in Government, nor as leading the Opposition.

I don’t agree with some of the ways the Chinese Government does things. I don’t agree with things that many Governments do.

But it the real world (as opposed to the Green world) you have to associate with and trade with countries that don’t fit your ideals.

This doesn’t just make it difficult to see how the Greens could operate in as a part of a Government.

It makes it very difficult for Labour to present themselves as a credible alternative lead party in a coalition when they would have to rely on the Greens to form a Government in the foreseeable future.