DAVOS, Switzerland – US President Donald Trump said on Friday he would maintain his policy of putting America first in international trade, but acknowledged that it was not intended to be a strategy for isolationism.
Trump, in his speech to global leaders gathered at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss alpine resort of Davos, added that free trade between the US and the rest of the world should be fair and reciprocal instead of one-sided.
“As president of the United States I will always put America first just like the leaders of other countries should put their country first also,” Trump said. “But America first does not mean America alone.”
He targeted what he described as unfair economic practices, including intellectual property theft, industrial subsidies and state-led economic planning, saying they distorted global markets and harmed businesses and workers not just in the US but around the globe.
Trump’s policies had included criticism of globalization and international migration so his speech to an audience that contained many leaders who advocate free trade and open borders was a rare expression qualifying his protectionist and nationalist stances.
However, he highlighted the importance of boosting military spending, something he has demanded from US allies, and emphasized the importance of controlling immigration.
“To make the world safer from rogue regimes, terrorism and revisionist powers, we’re asking our friend and allies to invest in their own defenses and to meet their financial obligations,” he said.
Trump added that securing the US’ immigration system, which he said was antiquated, was a matter of both national and economic security and called for a merit-based filter instead of the current framework that enables family reunification.
“America is a cutting-edge economy but our immigration system is stuck in the past,” he said.
Trump has repeatedly promised to build a wall along the US-Mexican border and claimed that Mexico would pay for its construction.
In the field of international relations, Trump mentioned the tensions on the Korean Peninsula and the threat of radical Islamism.
“We continue to call on partners to confront Iran’s support for terrorists and block Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon,” he said.
He also said he was proud of his administration’s efforts at the Security Council of the United Nations to press for a common front against North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
He described the initiative as, “our campaign of maximum pressure to de-nuke the Korean peninsula.”