Take away from the equation the media follies of Donald Trump, such as the Mexican border wall or the splashes of childishness in the dispute with North Korea. Omit substantive suspicion (yet to be confirmed) about the connections between elements of the Trump campaign and Russia, and make an effort also to downplay the racist statements of the president of the U.S. when he characterized Haiti and African states as “shitholes.”
Obviously it is difficult to expunge all these elements when tracing the picture of the Trump presidency, but the reality is that they only help to judge the person and do not serve to evaluate his actions. The most substantive action of the Trump presidency was the significant reduction of corporate taxes after being approved by both houses of Congress. The promise in the first phase was to put wind in the sails of capital markets. Now that the tax plan has been implemented, it is bringing money to the United States, as demonstrated by Apple’s decision to repatriate profits from Europe to the country of origin. In parallel, Washington was promoting the devaluation of the dollar (and promises to go further), thus enhancing the export capacity of its companies, while at the same time making imports more expensive with the setting of new customs tariffs.
The “America First” of Trump is exactly that, economic protectionism, which is easier to achieve when you have gigantic multinationals that have become unavoidable worldwide. To this extent, the Trump presidency poses inevitable challenges to the European Union and the globalization narrative that has been defended over the last decade and which China has promised to join, though it has been slow to materialize this commitment.
But yesterday in Davos, Angela Merkel advocated that the countries of the European Union must “respond with fiscal reforms” to U.S. changes by creating a common system in relation to the tariffs paid by companies. The German chancellor believes, on the other hand, that protectionism is not a solution. Being in the right, it is unknown how the European Union can, as a whole, maintain a global vision, in relation to a power that is taking a path that goes in the opposite direction. The only certainty is that tax reform is manifestly insufficient to divert Trump from his isolationist route. To bring down this wall, the Europeans must use more sophisticated and less conceptional weapons.