- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 25, 2018

President Trump took a major European economic conference by storm Thursday, wooing corporate titans to invest more in the new American prosperity and smoothing over tensions with Great Britain as global elites gave him a celebrity welcome.

Over a dinner of tenderloin and fried Swiss pikeperch at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Mr. Trump chatted up the heads of global powerhouses such as Siemens, Nokia, Novartis and Nestle about the positive impacts of his corporate tax cuts and deregulation.

The 15 CEOs told Mr. Trump of their plans to invest at least $20 billion in the U.S. due to his tax cuts, from a Siemens gas turbine plant in Charlotte, North Carolina, to $16 billion in expansion plans by Bayer AG

“The real message is we want great prosperity and we want great peace,” the president told reporters. “We are seeing tremendous investment and today has been a very exciting day — great for our country.”

The president also engaged in a little damage control, walking back a comment by Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, who said Wednesday that a weak dollar was good for U.S. trade. Mr. Trump said on CNBC, “Ultimately I want to see a strong dollar.”

“Our country is becoming so economically strong again that the dollar is going to get stronger and stronger,” the president said, adding that he believed Mr. Mnuchin’s comments were taken out of context. The dollar has lost more than 10 percent since Mr. Trump’s inauguration.

As his first order of business in Davos, Mr. Trump tried to dispel “rumors” of a strained relationship with Great Britain as he arrived at the conference. Meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May, he told reporters, “the prime minister and myself have had a really great relationship, although some people don’t necessarily believe that.”

“There was a little bit of a false rumor out there, I wanted to correct it,” Mr. Trump said, turning to Ms. May. “We have great respect for everything you’re doing, we love your country.”

He told reporters, “I have tremendous respect for the prime minister and the job she’s doing. I think the feeling is mutual from the standpoint of liking each other a lot. We’re on the same wavelength, I think, in every respect.”

Mr. Trump has had a somewhat strained relationship with Ms. May over issues such as counterterrorism and moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. An unpopular figure in Britain, Mr. Trump canceled a visit there earlier this month, saying he didn’t want to attend the opening of the new U.S. embassy in London because it cost too much to build and he disapproved of the location.

Both governments said after the meeting that their staffs are working to schedule a visit by Mr. Trump to the U.K. before the end of this year.

The two leaders also discussed Brexit, Iran, and concerns raised by Ms. May that jobs could be lost at Canadian plane-maker Bombardier’s factory in Northern Ireland due to a trade dispute with U. S-based Boeing Co.

Ms. May told the president Thursday, “We continue to have a really special relationship between the U.K. and the United States. We face the same challenges across the world. We’re working together to defeat those challenges.”

“It’s been great to see you again,” she told the president.

The president received a rock-star welcome as he arrived at the conference hall, with attendees holding up their cell phones and swarming four deep near Mr. Trump. Asked by reporters if he hoped to be received warmly at the forum, Mr. Trump gestured to the crowd following him and said, “I already am. Take a look — you tell me.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, California Republican who is also attending the conference, said the buzz among political leaders and corporate chiefs at Davos is all about the strong U.S. economy.

“They’re all talking about America doing great things again,” Mr. McCarthy said on MSNBC. “Every country is saying they want to change their tax policy. It [tax cuts] wasn’t just about making America stronger. It’s really uplifting the world.”

Mr. Trump will deliver a major economic address to the forum in Davos on Friday, when he’s expected to give a robust defense of his tax and trade policies. Many at the conference have expressed concern about Mr. Trump’s scrapping or renegotiating of free-trade deals and his imposing of tariffs this week on solar foreign-made solar panels and washing machines.

“The agenda is going to be, again, that the U.S. is open for business, that the new tax law, tax cuts act, makes investing in the United States very attractive,” Mr. Mnuchin said.

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