What will Trump’s Presidency mean for Irish Trade?

Jan 24, 2017

by Emma Kerins, International Affairs Executive, Chambers Ireland

On Friday the 20th January, President Donald Trump gave his inaugural address, outlining the priorities for his presidency. Inaugural speeches are typically aimed at unifying the nation post election, outing broad policy objectives and particularly highlighting priorities for the United States with regard to its foreign policy and its place in the international community. However, hopes for a more conciliatory and pragmatic approach (as was the case in his victory speech in November, where he called on Americans to unite) were not fulfilled, with President Trump’s speech more in line with some of his campaign rhetoric, committing to putting “America First”, emphasising the need to protect US borders and promoting a protectionist agenda on trade, jobs, manufacturing and foreign policy. US markets, in the immediate aftermath of Trump’s election, have responded positively where both stocks and the dollar rallied amid promises for fiscal stimulus, and spending on infrastructure. However following the inaugural speech, there was a more muted response domestically, and economists have raised concerns about impact of increased spending on public debt, which could hurt the long-term economic outlook for the US.

As for Ireland, it remains to be seen what the impact of a Trump presidency will be for our economy. The language of “America First” suggests a more isolationist approach to its relationship with the international community. Already, in the days that have followed his inauguration, President Trump has signed an Executive Order withdrawing from the TPP. While he has not addressed his position on the proposed EU-US trade deal (TTIP), early signs indicate that it is unlikely to be a priority for his administration. After the EU’s Single Market, the US is one of Ireland’s most important trading partners and Chambers Ireland has been a strong supporter of the TTIP negotiations, where economic studies project that Ireland, including its SMEs, will benefit more than double any other EU country. With Brexit on the horizon, which is already hitting trade between Ireland and the UK, early signs from the United States that building closer trade links with Europe won’t be on the agenda is disappointing. Increasing international trade and investment for Ireland are crucial components for our future economic success.

Although it may not be possible to shield the Irish economy from the consequences of growing US protectionism and the loss of the UK from the Single Market, we can take some steps to protect business from the full impact of these risks. For example, in our recent submission to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Chambers Ireland urged Government to prioritise maintaining the competitiveness of our economy and rapidly investing in infrastructure. Furthermore, increased resources should be allocated to the objective of diversification of export markets in the short term. Ireland’s exporters are reliant on a relatively small number of countries, and with increased uncertainty as to trading conditions in the future, it is crucial that the objective of market diversification for SME exporters is both given attention and resources by Government in this strategy. In the current political climate, Ireland and Europe needs political leadership to support trade.  Our elected representatives must continue to support the European Commission’s trade strategy. As Ireland is a small open economy, our exporters and investors will only grow if the EU continues to pursue ambitious trade and investment agreements that will give increased access to growing markets

For more information on our work to promote trade and investment on behalf of Irish business, please visit our website at www.chambers.ie 

Follow us on Twitter @ChambersIreland

Subscribe to our newsletter