Donald Trump ran on a protectionist platform that would impose tariffs, reject trade agreements and limit immigration, all anathema to tech sector growth.
So now that he’s our president-elect, what is the CE business in for?
Gary Shapiro, who in his role as president/CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) is the industry’s defacto spokesman, is keeping an open mind and hoping for the best.
Quizzed by media at yesterday’s CES Unveiled preview event in New York, Shapiro, who had openly endorsed Hillary Clinton for her “phenomenal technology platform,” opined that “Trump has no technology platform that we can identify, and we’ve asked repeatedly … We’re all trying to figure out the guy.”
The stakes are high, Shapiro said, and not just for the tech biz but for all the myriad sectors it now touches — which is why he’s cautiously optimistic that a Trump administration will do right by CE.
“Both sides want what’s best for the country and the people, and you don’t do that by punishing an industry,” he said. The tech business has not hurt jobs, he argued, and free trade benefits consumers through low prices. “You don’t want people to pay the cost of a car for an iPhone,” he said.
Specifically, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which Trump decried in a policy speech as “a death blow for American manufacturing,” was studied closely by the CTA, which concluded that the pact remains “the best trade tool for dealing with China,” Shapiro said.
Similarly, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which Trump described in the same address as “the worst trade deal in history,” solidifies our relationships with the country’s two closest allies, who have also kept us safe militarily by guarding our northern and southern flanks, he noted.
The CTA chief, who has supported, contributed to and advocated for previous Republican presidential candidates, acknowledged that the trade group had similar reservations about then Sen. Barack Obama’s tech platform eight years ago, but that the industry ultimately flourished over his ensuing two terms.
The bottom line, he said, is that “Trump is an intelligent person — he fooled everyone and became president — and he won’t want to hurt a major industry.”
And even if he does, Shapiro reminded, it will be difficult to add tariffs to China trade; there is the check-and-balance that is Congress; and there’ll be another federal election in two years.
“Life will go on,” he assured.
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