WASHINGTON • President Donald Trump flew overnight to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, yesterday, where he was expected to push his "America first" agenda and seek more fair, reciprocal trade between the United States and its allies.
Mr Trump, never invited as a businessman, will be the first US president to attend Davos since Mr Bill Clinton in 2000, giving him a chance to mingle with the same elite "globalists" he bashed in his 2016 election campaign.
His visit is to culminate in a speech today to the forum of business and political leaders.
White House aides said Mr Trump's message would be the same that he has given during other trips abroad over the past year: The US wants strong ties with its allies, but wants to reduce trade deficits with many of them.
"America first is not America alone," said White House senior economic adviser Gary Cohn, who is travelling with Mr Trump.
"When we grow, the world grows; when the world grows, we grow. We are part of it, and we are part of a world economy. And the President believes that."
In the run-up to his trip to Davos, Mr Trump imposed a 30 per cent tariff on imported solar panels, among the first unilateral trade restrictions imposed by the administration as part of a broader protectionist agenda. Then on Wednesday in Davos, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he welcomed a weakening of the dollar.
Fears of protectionist trade policies by the United States had already caused the greenback to slide, and Mr Mnuchin's remark pushed it to a three-year low.
Mr Trump will use his trip for some diplomacy. He had meetings with British Prime Minister Theresa May and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday, and will meet Rwandan President Paul Kagame, current chairman of the African Union, and Swiss President Alain Berset today. He was to host a small dinner for European business executives last night.
French President Emmanuel Macron told RTS channel that he had "strongly recommended" to Mr Trump to attend the Davos forum during a recent phone conversation they had on Iran "because I think it is a good thing for President Trump to explain his strategy for the US and the world here in Davos".