Trump Day on Spend Matters – Everything Procurement Professionals Need To Consider

Today is ‘Trump Day’ on Spend Matters UK/Europe! We have several articles from our Spend Matters team as well as some excellent and stimulating guest pieces. Let’s start with an  Always Look On The Bright Side Of Trump from our own Peter Smith.

I have no time for many of the views President Trump appears to hold. But let’s try and be positive and think about how some of his attributes and “policies” (although really most have been no more than vaguely sketched ideas or throw-away lines) might actually work positively.

One does immediately come to mind.  We were very critical of David Cameron and the UK government’s frankly pathetic negotiations with the EU that led really to the Brexit result. We also suspect “the West” has been out-negotiated too often by countries such as Russia and Chine in recent years in trade deals and elsewhere.

Now it’s not that we think Trump is necessarily the genius negotiator he no doubt believes he is, but he has got some experience, and will at least be inconsistent, unpredictable and emotional we suspect in the way he conducts negotiations. And, you know what?  That sort of opponent is a real challenge in a negotiation situation. If he can use those qualities yet with some analytical back-up and enough discipline and control to stay focused, he might just do some “good deals”, as he claims he will.

Another area he might address is the power of lobbyists in Washington and some of the in-built corruption really in the US political system. If he was a different sort of man, being an outsider might help in that regard. But we have less confidence that he will truly address these issue rather than following his own vested interests. Will he still feel so negative about lobbyists when they are offering benefits to him, his friends and family or his pet projects?

Some lobbyists worked for Trump of course – and are now seeing big opportunities for more client revenue with the new government to influence, so there are reasons to be doubtful whether Trump’s intent will be delivered. However, we can hope.

Then there are business issues. We will have more on that later today, but in summary the system of taxation for business in the US is pretty broken, and does need big change. When US firms have trillions of dollars held offshore because of punitive rates if they bring the money home, there’s something wrong.  Again, it is whether Trump can deliver against his rhetoric, because his general intent has not really been converted into hard plans during the campaign.

Anyone who has traveled much to or in the USA knows how dreadful much of the public infrastructure is in the country. Airports, roads, bridges ... many would be a disgrace to a third world country and are certainly not fit for purpose in the richest nation in the world. Investment is badly needed; Trump has promised that.

His foreign policy stance (if you can call it that) is worrying in many regards; but we do have sympathy in one area. Too many NATO members are failing to meet their commitments in terms of defence spending. With the US by far the biggest spender and key anchor for NATO, it is not unreasonable for Trump to make sure that the countries which it is defending pay a fair amount themselves. And the condescending, arrogant remarks from Jean-Claude Juncker - a man who seems to have learnt nothing from recent events - really don't help.

A final thought. Before the election, one newspaper warned that with this candidate as President,  "Murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and incest will be openly taught and practiced, the air will be rent with the cries of the distressed, the soil will be soaked with blood, and the nation black with crimes."

But that wasn’t 2016; it was 1800 and the candidate described, who did indeed win after a very contentious election, was Thomas Jefferson, who became one of the greatest Presidents ever. We can but hope that President Trump surprises us all.

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