From border wall to climate pact exit: Will Trump make good on his campaign pledges?

US President-elect Donald Trump gestures as he speaks at election night rally in Manhattan, New York on Nov 9, 2016.
US President-elect Donald Trump gestures as he speaks at election night rally in Manhattan, New York on Nov 9, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

Populist promises to curb free trade pacts, climate-related obligations and immigration are credited - or blamed - for delivering Mr Donald Trump to the White House. But since his election triumph, the blustery US President-elect has softened the tone on his most strident proposals or wiped them off his record, adding to uncertainty over his likely policies.

We look at how likely it is the billionaire magnate will make good on his campaign promises.

TRADE

What he promised

- Renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta);

- Withdraw the US from the "job-killing" Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a controversial trade pact signed by 12 countries including Singapore

Can he deliver?

- Nafta: Maybe. Mexico and Canada have indicated that they would be "happy" to discuss the 22-year-old trade deal with Mr Trump, who blames the pact for taking manufacturing jobs from the US to Mexico. Mexican Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu said Mexico will discuss ways to "modernise" the pact with Mr Trump's transition team in the coming months.

- TPP: The deal was already on its last legs to begin with. Only 28 of 188 House Democrats and 13 of 44 Senate Democrats supported granting Obama the authority to negotiate and finalise a deal last year. Ahead of the Nov 8 presidential and congressional elections, both Democrats and Republicans campaigned against "unfair" trade policies. Mr Trump's win simply sealed its fate.

 

IMMIGRATION

What he promised

- Build a wall on the border with Mexico and pay for it by taxing remittances sent home by Mexicans in the US

- Immediately begin the process of deporting illegal immigrants with criminal records, and jail people who illegally re-enter the US

- Introduce "extreme vetting" of immigrants to weed out those who do not "share our values and respect our people"

- Temporarily ban Muslims from entering the US "until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on".

Can he deliver?

- Wall: Unclear. Mr Trump seemed intent on building the barrier, to the extent of repeating his promise to make Mexico pay for a US$10 billion wall hours after visiting Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto in August. The plan also figures in the immigration section of his new presidential transition website. But Mexico has insisted it won't foot the bill and political analysts say it will be very difficult for Mr Trump to obtain the budget to build it.

- Mass deportation: Once in office, Mr Trump can end, without Congress approval, President Barack Obama's initiatives that currently protect more than 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation. He pledges "zero tolerance for criminal aliens" on his transition website but doesn't spell out how they would be dealt with. Mass deportation could cost as much as US$166 billion, including the cost of erecting a wall.

- Extreme vetting: Mr Trump indicated on Thursday that immigration is one of his top three priorities, but he will need congressional approval to reduce legal immigration from current levels. The Department of Homeland Security will have to devise a screening test of people from "high risk" countries, and identify which people from which countries should undergo the screening. 

- Muslims ban: Unlikely. The radical pledge, which drew widespread condemnation, is not mentioned on Mr Trump's presidential transition website.

CLIMATE CHANGE

What he promised

"Cancel" the Paris Agreement which came into force on Nov 4 and commits countries to limiting global warming this century to below 2 deg C.

Can he deliver?

The US is bound to the Paris agreement until 2020. Mr Trump could take the drastic step of withdrawing from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, a treaty that established the entire process. If he goes down this route, he could pull the US out of the Paris pact by 2018 but risk damaging the country's diplomatic relations and standing, since curbing global warming is now among the top priorities of world leaders.

But Mr Trump can also opt to keep the US in the accord, but don't carry out the country's obligations.

HEALTHCARE

What he promised

Repeal the Affordable Care Act. Popularly known as Obamacare, Mr Obama's signature policy has insured millions people who would have struggled to afford medical cover but it has also pushed up premiums for Americans not on government assistance.

Can he deliver?

Mr Trump has indicated that healthcare would be one of his top three priorities, and said he would replace this with another system that would give more power to states over how to handle funds. But even if Republicans, who control only 51 seats in the 100-seat Senate manage to get around a Democratic filibuster, Mr Trump's administration will have to contend with opposition from the 20 million people insured under Obamacare, as well as from healthcare providers and states which have poured funds into the programme.