The world woke up this morning with a single question: “Now what?”
The answer, particularly for those of us involved in the air freight and logistics industries, is: “Who knows?”
Donald Trump, who will soon take office as President of the United States of America, articulated few policy positions, but one thing he did say is that he planned to tear up existing trade agreements and block future ones. This, naturally, has huge implications for our industry, but bear three things in mind:
- Nobody, probably including Mr Trump himself, has any idea what his real feelings on this subject are.
- Even if he wants to build a protectionist wall around the US, he can’t do it without Congressional approval.
- Hillary Clinton also promised (though in words less strong) to torpedo some future trade agreements and revisit old ones — and nobody saw her as a big threat to world trade. Why not? Because most people assumed this was one of those campaign promises that would be forgotten as soon as the election was over. The same could be true with Mr Trump.
Of these three, it is the second that is most important. With the Republican party now in control of both the US House and Senate, it is to Congress, not the President, that we must look when thinking about the implications of this election. The Republican party is, in many ways, in the midst of a civil war, and its members are unanimous on almost nothing. However, there is a significant group within the party that is both isolationist and protectionist. If that group gains enough power, the impact on world trade — and air and ocean freight — could be enormous. (And that same group also fought vociferously to put an end to the US Ex-Im Bank.)
Right now, nobody knows what the future holds, but we’d be happy to hear your thoughts on it.