America's image worsens under Trump: Survey

BERLIN • The image of the United States has deteriorated sharply across the globe under President Donald Trump, and an overwhelming majority of people in other countries have no confidence in his ability to lead, a survey from the Pew Research Centre showed.

Five months into Mr Trump's presidency, the survey spanning 37 countries showed US favourability ratings in the rest of the world slumping to 49 per cent, from 64 per cent at the end of former president Barack Obama's eight years in the White House.

But the falls were far steeper in some of America's closest allies, including US neighbours Mexico and Canada, and European partners such as Germany and Spain.

Mr Trump took office in January pledging to put "America First". Since then, he has pressed ahead with plans to build a wall along the US border with Mexico, announced that he will pull out of the Paris climate accord and accused countries - including Canada, Germany and China - of unfair trade practices.

On his first foreign trip as president early this month, Mr Trump received warm welcomes in Saudi Arabia and Israel, but a cool reception from European partners, with whom he clashed over Nato spending, climate change and trade.

Just 30 per cent of Mexicans now say they have a favourable view of the US, down from 66 per cent at the end of the Obama era. In Canada and Germany, favourability ratings slid by 22 points, to 43 per cent and 35 per cent, respectively.

"The drop in favourability ratings for the United States is widespread," the Pew report said.

"The share of the public with a positive view of the US has plummeted in a diverse set of countries from Latin America, North America, Europe, Asia and Africa."

The survey, based on the responses of 40,447 people and conducted between Feb 16 and May 8 this year, showed even deeper mistrust of Mr Trump himself, with only 22 per cent of those surveyed saying they had confidence that he would do the right thing in world affairs, compared with 64 per cent who trusted Mr Obama.

Both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, with confidence ratings of 27 per cent and 28 per cent respectively, scored higher than Mr Trump. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, with a confidence rating of 42 per cent, scored highest among the four leaders in the survey.

The countries with the lowest confidence in Mr Trump were Mexico at 5 per cent, and Spain at 7 per cent. The only two countries where ratings improved compared with Mr Obama were Russia, where confidence in the US President surged to 53 per cent from 11 per cent, and Israel, where it rose 7 points to 56 per cent.

On the positive side, the survey showed that 58 per cent of respondents had a positive view of Americans in general.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2017, with the headline 'America's image worsens under Trump: Survey'. Print Edition | Subscribe