The Washington D.C. media elite are heralding Donald Trump’s visit to the World Economic Forum in Davos as a shining success, his “America first” message a “salesman’s offer to other nations and businesses,” but his promise that “America is open for business” and his intention to put “America first” is undermined by his recent decision to impose tariffs on solar cells and modules (as well as washing machines).
Donald Trump is the first US President since Bill Clinton to have visited the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, a move which confused many considering the Forum’s specific globalist agenda and Trump’s intended nationalist agenda. And, despite the obvious discrepancy between the two, Trump didn’t waver, and promised attendees that “I believe in America. As president of the United States, I will always put America first. Just like the leaders of other countries should put their countries first.”
“But America first does not mean America alone,” Trump added.
“I’m here to deliver a simple message: There has never been a better time to hire, to build, to invest and to grow in the United States. America is open for business, and we are competitive once again.”
This is all good and well — vaguely impressive rhetoric from a man who was also booed by Davos attendees for referring to the media as “fake news” — but the reality at home belies his message. Only a few days earlier, Trump’s Administration announced that the President had decided to impose a 30% tariff on imported solar cells and modules (for the full run down, head on over). The imposition of new tariffs will not only threaten 23,000 jobs in 2018 alone but will reduce US solar installations by 11% over the next 5 years, amounting to a loss of around 7.6 GW (gigawatts).
Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) — who has led the charge against the imposition of tariffs since June — succinctly highlighted the juxtaposition between Trump’s decision to impose solar tariffs and his speech at Davos.
“We share President Trump’s goal of free and fair trade and we would support any efforts toward a negotiated solution to solar trade issues,” Ross Hopper said.
“However, his decision to impose punishing tariffs are not consistent with his goal of putting America First.
“These tariffs do not ‘protect the interests of our country, our companies, and our workers.’ Quite the contrary, American companies will be forced to scale back investment, layoff workers and, in some cases, shutter operations because of these tariffs.
“We look forward to working with the president, members of Congress and all stakeholders to reduce or moderate the negative effects of the president’s solar tariff decision. Meanwhile, we face the loss of 23,000 jobs and the cancellation of billions of dollars worth of solar projects with virtually no additional job creation or reduction of the trade deficit.”
The SEIA is not the only one hammering Trump and his Administration on its decision to impose tariffs. Kevin Steinberger, Polcy Analyst at the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), explained recently that “President Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on solar component imports is a shortsighted and counterproductive move, but it’s also consistent with his administration’s attempts to undermine clean energy across the board.”
In the end, Trump’s promise of putting “America first” creates a dichotomy with his natural Conservative tendencies to quash the renewable energy industry and prop-up the fossil fuel industry and good ol’ fashion mining jobs. It is a worldview that no longer bears any resemblance to reality, and one that will only serve to break more promises than are promised.
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