By Munir Majid, The Star/ANN
Malaysia — U.S. President Donald Trump exploded from the blocks after his inauguration on Jan. 20, but soon found out he was not in a sprint but in a long-distance race. His rapid fire of orders to fulfil promises he made for his first 100 days were not as easy to shoot as he thought. Most notable, of course, were the executive orders on entry into the United States, immigrants and refugees. The way these orders were shot down was one of the most heartening evidences that the liberal system in America was alive and well — not just the laws, but the people willing to fight for others — and that the Trump avalanche could not crush it. Trump has promised to come roaring back, but not yet. Meanwhile he has moved to the H-1B visa, signing just this week the “Buy American, Hire American” executive order in Wisconsin (where his stunning victory was part of the Rust Belt sweep that propelled him to the White House).
This order could curb the hiring of foreign technical workers and will get government agencies to buy more domestically produced products — all part of his promise to protect American jobs and wages. So there still is this anti-foreign binge, if not quite fulfilled on the alleged security front at least on the economic front, misplaced though it may be to most rational people. Mixed And Uncertain For countries outside America, the main concern with the Trump presidency is his threat to attack the open global trading system, which he claims has been unfair to the United States. His performance on this within these 100 days is mixed and uncertain. The big overhang was a possible trade war between the United States and China. Though not quite averted, it does not look as if China is going to be slapped with a tariff of 45 percent or declared a currency manipulator in Trump’s first 100 days, or perhaps even the next. This was a lightning campaign promise, over which wiser counsel has prevailed. The former was hyperbole of the highest order, and the latter plainly not true. This does not mean, however, that there is no prospect of trade conflict with China or that the Trump administration has embraced free trade. It is just that some strategy or policy is forming.