Global business in the age of Trump

Last fall, I had the occasion to speak to the Pennsylvania Bar Association about global business in the age of Donald Trump. Plenty of people expected a prediction of gloom and doom. If all your information comes from CNN, that might be a reasonable assessment. Out in the real world, however, things look a little bit different.

Here are a few reasons why these could be the best years ever for global business.

Politicians rant, but businesspeople do deals

About six months before the election, I made a three-week global business trip and delivered 18 separate presentations. During the conversation afterward, I asked businesspeople in the multiple countries two questions:

  • What do you think of our election process?Who will be t
  • he better president for the United States?

They were all bemused at the focus of our electoral politics, where we paid scant attention to national economic policy but obsessed over who was using what restroom.

When it came to the second question, I was somewhat surprised to find 100 percent unanimous support for Donald Trump. Why? While many of these people may have been supporters of more liberal social policy, they all knew instinctively that America had to get focused on business and doing deals to boost our economy. Post-election, my follow-up conversations with the same people indicate their enthusiasm for doing deals with American companies has only escalated. They have confidence in us and in the growth of our economy.

Global interdependence is a reality

No matter how much any politician talks about severe trade crackdowns, the reality is that the measures tend to be more modest than proposed and often temporary. Even Trump has already begun to moderate his initial position on tariffs.

The reason is straightforward — the global economy is so interconnected and intertwined that except for small and trivial outlier countries, any nation that makes itself an island suffers badly in economic growth and no one can afford that. While some nations abuse governmental support and allow dumping to specifically target particular industries, in general we all have too much at stake for isolationism to gain traction.

Inbound foreign investment keeps growing

From Asia and Europe, both acquisitions and greenfield investments in the United States continue to increase. These capital inflows track retail, distribution, software and advanced technology projects. Within the last eight months, Blue Water Growth has met with no fewer than six delegations from various global locations interested in robotics, artificial intelligence, medical devices, advanced optics and a long list of other opportunities. Gaining equal focus is the acquisition of U.S. brands to combine with strong European and Asian companies.

While there may be a slowdown in mega-deals, in the middle-market space, there is vibrant opportunity.

This may not be the point of view you’ll hear yelled at full voice by both mainstream media outlets and the chattering classes, but my hands-on experience over the last year indicates continued opportunity for doing global deals — if we are not scared off by irrational and unfounded fears.

 

David Iwinski Jr. is the managing director of Blue Water Growth. A global business consulting firm with extensive experience and expertise in Asia, Blue Water Growth services include merger and acquisition guidance, private capital solutions, product distribution, production outsourcing and a wide variety of business advisory services for its Western and Asian clients.