Klaus Schwab: Mr. President, after you have been so warm­ly received yes­ter­day here in Davos, it is now my great plea­sure to offi­cial­ly wel­come the pres­i­dent of the United States, Donald J. Trump to the clos­ing ses­sion of the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2018.

Mr. President, you can­not imag­ine how much we are look­ing for­ward to your speech. Not just the three thou­sand lead­ers assem­bled here in Davos, but also the mil­lions join­ing us glob­al­ly thanks to the pres­ence of key media from the around the world.

Mr. President, on behalf of the busi­ness lead­ers here in the room, let me par­tic­u­lar­ly con­grat­u­late you for the his­toric tax reform pack­age passed last month, great­ly reduc­ing the tax bur­den of US com­pa­nies, fos­ter­ing job cre­ation, well as stim­u­lat­ing eco­nom­ic growth in the United States, but also pro­vid­ing a tremen­dous boost to the glob­al economy.

Davos is the place where lead­ers of state and indus­try come and work togeth­er in the pur­suit of glob­al peace and pros­per­i­ty. We live in an inter­de­pen­dent world, where deci­sions made by one nation, par­tic­u­lar­ly by the United States, impact all oth­er coun­tries. I believe that today we need to strike the right bal­ance between the nec­es­sary rebuild­ing of nation­al social con­tacts, and at the same time strength­en­ing our mul­ti­lat­er­al sys­tem to address crit­i­cal issues such as trade, invest­ment, ter­ror­ism, and migra­tion, to name just a few.

Mr. President, the role of the United States, and your per­son­al lead­er­ship, is absolute­ly essen­tial. For this rea­son, your mes­sage here has tremen­dous rel­e­vance. Of course, I’m aware that your strong lead­er­ship is open to mis­con­cep­tions and biased inter­pre­ta­tions. Therefore, it is so essen­tial for us in the room to lis­ten direct­ly to you.

This forum, as it has done for near­ly five decades, should cre­ate a place for dia­logue and glob­al coop­er­a­tion where, and I quote you Mr. President, strong sov­er­eign nations with dif­fer­ent val­ues, dif­fer­ent cul­tures, and dif­fer­ent dreams do not just coex­ist but work side by side on the basis of mutu­al respect.”

Ladies and gen­tle­men, please wel­come the forty-fifth pres­i­dent of the United States, Donald J. Trump to the stage.

Donald Trump: Thank you Klaus, very much. It’s a priv­i­lege to be here at this forum where lead­ers in busi­ness, sci­ence, art, diplo­ma­cy, and world affairs have gath­ered for many many years to dis­cuss how we can advance pros­per­i­ty and peace. I’m here today to rep­re­sent the inter­ests of the American peo­ple, and to affirm America’s friend­ship and part­ner­ship in build­ing a bet­ter world.

Like all nations rep­re­sent­ed at this great forum, America hopes for a future in which every­one can pros­per, and every child can grow up free from vio­lence, pover­ty, and fear. Over the past year, we have made extra­or­di­nary strides in the US. We’re lift­ing up for­got­ten com­mu­ni­ties, cre­at­ing excit­ing new oppor­tu­ni­ties, and help­ing every American find their path to the American Dream. The dream of a great job, a safe home, and a bet­ter life for their children.

After years of stag­na­tion, the United States is once again expe­ri­enc­ing strong eco­nom­ic growth. The stock mar­ket is smash­ing one record after anoth­er, and has added more than $7 tril­lion in new wealth since my elec­tion. Consumer con­fi­dence, busi­ness con­fi­dence, and man­u­fac­tur­ing con­fi­dence are the high­est they have been in many decades.

Since my elec­tion, we’ve cre­at­ed 2.4 mil­lion jobs, and that num­ber is going up very, very sub­stan­tial­ly. Small busi­ness opti­mism is at an all-time high. New unem­ploy­ment claims are near the low­est we’ve seen in almost half a cen­tu­ry. African American unem­ploy­ment has reached the low­est rate ever record­ed in the United States, and so has unem­ploy­ment among Hispanic Americans.

The world is wit­ness­ing the resur­gence of a strong and pros­per­ous America. I’m here to deliv­er a sim­ple mes­sage. There has nev­er been a bet­ter time to hire, to build, to invest, and to grow in the United States. America is open for busi­ness, and we are com­pet­i­tive once again. The American econ­o­my is by far the largest in the world, and we’ve just enact­ed the most sig­nif­i­cant tax cuts and reform in American his­to­ry. We’ve mas­sive­ly cut tax­es for the mid­dle class and small busi­ness­es, to let work­ing fam­i­lies keep more of their hard-earned mon­ey. We low­ered our cor­po­rate tax rate from 35% all the way down to 21%. As a result, mil­lions of work­ers have received tax cut bonus­es from their employ­ers in amounts as large as $3,000.

The tax cut bill is expect­ed to raise the aver­age American’s house­hold income by more than $4,000. The world’s largest com­pa­ny, Apple, announced it plans to bring $245 bil­lion in over­seas prof­its home to America. Their total invest­ment into the United States econ­o­my will be more than $350 bil­lion over the next five years. Now is the per­fect time to bring your busi­ness, your jobs, and your invest­ments to the United States. This is espe­cial­ly true because we have under­tak­en the most exten­sive reg­u­la­to­ry reduc­tion ever conceived. 

Regulation is stealth tax­a­tion. The US like many oth­er coun­tries, unelect­ed bureaucrats—and we have…believe me, we have them all over the place. And they’ve imposed crush­ing and anti-business and anti-worker reg­u­la­tions on our cit­i­zens, with no vote, no leg­isla­tive debate, and no real accountability.

In America, those days are over. I pledged to elim­i­nate two unnec­es­sary reg­u­la­tions for every one new reg­u­la­tion. We have suc­ceed­ed beyond our high­est expec­ta­tions. Instead of two for one, we have cut twenty-two bur­den­some reg­u­la­tions for every one new rule. We are free­ing our busi­ness­es and work­ers so they can thrive and flour­ish as nev­er before. We are cre­at­ing an envi­ron­ment that attracts cap­i­tal, invites invest­ment, and rewards pro­duc­tion. America is the place to do busi­ness. So come to America, where you can inno­vate, cre­ate, and build. I believe in America. As pres­i­dent of the United States, I will always put America first, just like the lead­ers of oth­er coun­tries should put their coun­try first, also.

But America first does not mean America alone. When the United States grows, so does the world. American pros­per­i­ty has cre­at­ed count­less jobs all around the globe. And the dri­ve for excel­lence, cre­ativ­i­ty, and inno­va­tion in the US has led to impor­tant dis­cov­er­ies that help peo­ple every­where live more pros­per­ous and far health­i­er lives.

As the United States pur­sues domes­tic reforms to unleash jobs and growth, we are also work­ing to reform the inter­na­tion­al trad­ing sys­tem so that it pro­motes broadly-shared pros­per­i­ty and rewards to those who play by the rules. We can­not have free and open trade if some coun­tries exploit the sys­tem at the expense of oth­ers. We sup­port free trade, but it needs to be fair, and it needs to be rec­i­p­ro­cal. Because in the end, unfair trade under­mines us all. The United States will no longer turn a blind eye to unfair eco­nom­ic prac­tices, includ­ing mas­sive intel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty theft, indus­tri­al sub­si­dies, and per­va­sive state-led eco­nom­ic plan­ning. These and oth­er preda­to­ry behav­iors are dis­tort­ing the glob­al mar­kets and harm­ing busi­ness­es and work­ers not just in the US but around the globe.

Just like we expect the lead­ers of oth­er coun­tries to pro­tect their inter­ests, as pres­i­dent of the United States, I will always pro­tect the inter­ests of our coun­try, our com­pa­nies, and our work­ers. We will enforce our trade laws and restore integri­ty to our trad­ing sys­tem. Only by insist­ing on fair and rec­i­p­ro­cal trade can we cre­ate a sys­tem that works not just for the US but for all nations. As I have said, the United States is pre­pared to nego­ti­ate mutu­al­ly ben­e­fi­cial, bilat­er­al trade agree­ments with all coun­tries. This will include the coun­tries in TPP, which are very impor­tant. We have agree­ments with sev­er­al of them already. We would con­sid­er nego­ti­at­ing with the rest, either indi­vid­u­al­ly or per­haps as a group, if it is in the inter­ests of all.

My admin­is­tra­tion is also tak­ing swift action in oth­er ways to restore American con­fi­dence and inde­pen­dence. We are lift­ing self-imposed restric­tions on ener­gy pro­duc­tion to pro­vide afford­able pow­er to our cit­i­zens and busi­ness­es, and to pro­mote ener­gy secu­ri­ty for our friends all around the world. No coun­try should be held hostage to a sin­gle provider of energy.

America is roar­ing back, and now is the time to invest in the future of America. We have dra­mat­i­cal­ly cut tax­es to make America com­pet­i­tive. We are elim­i­nat­ing bur­den­some reg­u­la­tions at a record pace. We are reform­ing the bureau­cra­cy to make it lean, respon­sive, and account­able. And we are ensur­ing our laws are enforced fairly.

We have the best col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties in the world. And we have the best work­ers in the world. Energy is abun­dant and afford­able. There has nev­er been a bet­ter time to do busi­ness in America.

We are also mak­ing his­toric invest­ments in the American mil­i­tary, because we can­not have pros­per­i­ty with­out secu­ri­ty. To make the world safer from rogue regimes, ter­ror­ism, and revi­sion­ist pow­ers, we are ask­ing our friends and allies to invest in their own defens­es and to meet their finan­cial oblig­a­tions. Our com­mon secu­ri­ty requires every­one to con­tribute their fair share. My admin­is­tra­tion is proud to have led his­toric efforts, at the United Nations Security Council and all around the world, to unite all civ­i­lized nations in our cam­paign of max­i­mum pres­sure to de-nuke the Korean Peninsula. We con­tin­ue to call on part­ners to con­front Iran’s sup­port for ter­ror­ists and block Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon.

We’re also work­ing with allies and part­ners to destroy jihadist ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions such as ISIS, and very suc­cess­ful­ly so. The United States is lead­ing a very broad coali­tion to deny ter­ror­ists con­trol of their ter­ri­to­ry and pop­u­la­tions, to cut off their fund­ing, and to dis­cred­it their wicked ideology.

I am pleased to report that the coali­tion to defeat ISIS has retak­en almost 100% of the ter­ri­to­ry once held by these killers in Iraq and Syria. There is still more fight­ing and work to be done, and to con­sol­i­date our gains. We are com­mit­ted to ensur­ing that Afghanistan nev­er again becomes a safe haven for ter­ror­ists who want to com­mit mass mur­der to our civil­ian pop­u­la­tions. I want to thank those nations rep­re­sent­ed here today that have joined in these cru­cial efforts. You are not just secur­ing your own cit­i­zens but sav­ing lives and restor­ing hope for mil­lions and mil­lions of peo­ple. When it comes to ter­ror­ism, we will do what­ev­er is nec­es­sary to pro­tect our nation. We will defend our cit­i­zens and our bor­ders. We are also secur­ing our immi­gra­tion sys­tem as a mat­ter of both nation­al and eco­nom­ic security.

America is a cutting-edge econ­o­my, but our immi­gra­tion sys­tem is stuck in the past. We must replace our cur­rent sys­tem of extend­ed fam­i­ly chain migra­tion with a merit-based sys­tem of admis­sions that selects new arrivals based on their abil­i­ty to con­tribute to our econ­o­my, to sup­port them­selves finan­cial­ly, and to strength­en our country.

In rebuild­ing America, we are also ful­ly com­mit­ted to devel­op­ing our work­force. We are lift­ing peo­ple from depen­dence to indepen­dence, because we know the sin­gle best anti-poverty pro­gram is a very sim­ple and very beau­ti­ful pay­check. To be suc­cess­ful, it is not enough to invest in our econ­o­my. We must invest in our peo­ple. When peo­ple are for­got­ten, the world becomes frac­tured. Only by hear­ing and respond­ing to the voic­es of the for­got­ten can we cre­ate a bright future that is tru­ly shared by all. The nation’s great­ness is more than the sum of its pro­duc­tion. A nation’s great­ness is the sum of its cit­i­zens; the val­ues, pride, love, devo­tion, and char­ac­ter of the peo­ple who call that nation home.

From my first inter­na­tion­al G7 Summit, to the G20, to the UN General Assembly, to APEC, to the World Trade Organization, and today at the World Economic Forum, my admin­is­tra­tion has not only been present, but has dri­ven our mes­sage that we are all stronger when free, sov­er­eign nations coop­er­ate toward shared goals and they coop­er­ate toward shared dreams.

Represented in this room are some of the remark­able cit­i­zens from all over the world. You are nation­al lead­ers, busi­ness titans, indus­try giants, and many of the bright­est minds in many fields. Each of you has the pow­er to change hearts, trans­form lives, and shape your coun­tries’ des­tinies. With this pow­er comes an oblig­a­tion, how­ev­er. A duty of loy­al­ty to the people—workers, and customers—who have made you who you are. So togeth­er, let us resolve to use our pow­er, our resources, and our voic­es, not just for our­selves, but for our peo­ple. To lift their bur­dens, to raise their hopes, and to empow­er their dreams. To pro­tect their fam­i­lies, their com­mu­ni­ties, their his­to­ries, and their futures.

That’s what we’re doing in America, and the results are total­ly unmis­tak­able. It’s why new busi­ness­es and invest­ment are flood­ing in. It’s why our unem­ploy­ment rate is the low­est it’s been in so many decades. It’s why America’s future has nev­er been brighter.

Today, I am invit­ing all of you to become part of this incred­i­ble future we are build­ing togeth­er. Thank you to our hosts. Thank you to the lead­ers and inno­va­tors in the audi­ence. But most impor­tant­ly, thank you to all of the hard-working men and women who do their duty each and every day, mak­ing this a bet­ter world for every­one. Together, let us send our love and our grat­i­tude to make them, because they real­ly make our coun­tries run. They make our coun­tries great.

Thank you, and God bless you all. Thank you very much.

Klaus Schwab: Thank you Mr. President, for this inspir­ing speech. As it is tra­di­tion at the forum, I will ask you one or two ques­tions. And my first ques­tion is, why is the tax reform…why has it been of such a high pri­or­i­ty for your administration?

Donald Trump: Well first of all Klaus, I want to con­grat­u­late you. This is an incred­i­ble group of peo­ple. We had din­ner last night with about fif­teen lead­ers of indus­try. None of whom I knew, but all of whom I’ve read about for years, and it was tru­ly an incred­i­ble group. But I think I have fif­teen new friends, so this has been real­ly great, what you’ve done and putting it togeth­er, the eco­nom­ic forum.

The tax reform was a dream of a lot of peo­ple over many years, but they weren’t able to get it done—many peo­ple tried. And Ronald Reagan was real­ly the last to make a mean­ing­ful cut and reform. And ours is cut­ting and reform­ing. We empha­size cut, but the reform is prob­a­bly almost as impor­tant. We’ve want­ed to do it. It is very tough polit­i­cal­ly to do it. Hard to believe that would be, but it is very, very tough. That’s why it has­n’t been done in close to forty years.

And once we got it going, it was going, and the big—and I would­n’t say a total sur­prise, but one of the big things that hap­pened and took place is AT&T and some oth­ers came out very ear­ly and they said they were going to pay thou­sands and thou­sands of dol­lars to peo­ple that work for their com­pa­nies. And you have 300,000, 400,000, 500,000 peo­ple work­ing for these com­pa­nies. And all of a sud­den it became like a big water­fall, a big beau­ti­ful water­fall, where so many com­pa­nies are doing it, and even today they just announced many more. But every day they announce more and more. And now it’s a fight for who’s going to give the most. It start­ed at a thou­sand, now we have them up to 3,000.

This is some­thing that we did­n’t antic­i­pate. Oftentimes in busi­ness, things hap­pen that you don’t antic­i­pate. Usually that’s a bad thing. But this was a good thing. This came out of nowhere. Nobody ever thought of this as a pos­si­bil­i­ty, even. It was­n’t in the equa­tion. We waited—we said, wait till February 1st when the checks start com­ing in. And peo­ple, Klaus, have a lot more mon­ey in their pay­check. Because it’s not just a lit­tle mon­ey, this is a lot of mon­ey for peo­ple mak­ing a liv­ing doing what­ev­er they may be doing.

And we real­ly thought February 1st it was going to kick in and every­body was going to be, Well, we haven’t even got­ten there yet.” And it’s kicked in. And it’s had an incred­i­ble impact on the stock mar­ket and the stock prices. We’ve set eight-four records since my elec­tion. Record stock mar­ket prices. Meaning we hit new highs eighty-four dif­fer­ent times out of…a one-year peri­od. And that’s a great thing. And in all fair­ness that was done before we passed the tax cuts and tax reform.

So what hap­pened is real­ly some­thing spe­cial. Then as you know, and as I just said, Apple came in with $350 bil­lion. And I tell you, I spoke with Tim Cook. I said, Tim, I will nev­er con­sid­er this whole great run that we’ve made com­plete until you start build­ing plants in the US.” And I will tell you, this moved up very sub­stan­tial­ly, but when I heard 350, I thought he was talking…I thought they were talk­ing $350 mil­lion. And by the way, that’s a nice-sized plant. Not the great­est, but not bad. And they said, No sir, it’s $350 bil­lion.” I said, That is something.”

Well, we have tremen­dous amounts of mon­ey, includ­ing my new­found friends from last night; great com­pa­nies. They’re all invest­ing. When one of the gen­tle­men said he’s putting in $2 bil­lion because of the tax cuts I said to myself, Wow, he’s actu­al­ly the cheap one in the group,” because they’re putting in mas­sive num­bers of bil­lions of dollars.

So, I think you have a brand new United States. You have a United States where peo­ple from all over the world are look­ing to come in and invest. and there’s just noth­ing like what’s happening.

And I just want to fin­ish by— I have a group of peo­ple that have been so— I have a whole lot of them, so I won’t intro­duce because then I’ll insult at least half of them. But I’ve had a group of peo­ple that worked so hard on this—and oth­er things. And we’re real­ly doing— We had a great first year. So suc­cess­ful in so many dif­fer­ent ways. And there’s a tremen­dous spir­it. When you look at all of the dif­fer­ent charts and polls and you see… As an exam­ple, African American unem­ploy­ment at the his­toric low—it’s never…it’s nev­er had a peri­od of time like this. Same with Hispanic. Women at a seventeen-year low. It’s very heart­warm­ing to see. But there’s a tremen­dous spir­it in the United States. I would say it’s a spir­it like I have nev­er wit­nessed before. I’ve been here for a while. I have nev­er wit­nessed the spir­it that our coun­try has right now. So I just want to thank you all and all those that are pour­ing bil­lions of dol­lars into our coun­try, or ten dol­lars into our coun­try, we thank you very much. Thank you.

Schwab: Mr. President, I will ask you maybe a per­son­al ques­tion. But before doing so— 

Trump: That sounds very interesting.

Schwab: I’d just like to acknowledge—

Trump: I did­n’t know about this one.

Schwab: I would like to acknowl­edge the strong pres­ence of your cab­i­net members—

Trump: Yes.

Schwab: —who tremen­dous­ly con­tributed to the dis­cus­sions [crosstalk] the last days.

Trump: Good. I would like to do that. That’s very nice.

Schwab: Yeah. Now…

Trump: Steven. Wilbur, Gary. Robert. Even my gen­er­al, and my var­i­ous oth­er gen­er­als, you know. We’re mak­ing our mil­i­tary pro­tec­tion a lit­tle bit bet­ter for us, too. So thank you very much. Does every­body under­stand that—I think so. Thank you all for being here.

Schwab: Now, my maybe per­son­al ques­tion would be, what expe­ri­ence from your past have been most use­ful in prepar­ing you for the presidency?

Trump: Well, being a busi­ness­man has been a great expe­ri­ence for me. I’ve loved it. I’ve always loved busi­ness. I’ve always been good at build­ing things. And I’ve always been suc­cess­ful at mak­ing mon­ey. I’d buy things that would fail—that would be fail­ures, and I’d turn them around and try and get them for the right price and then I’d turn them around and make them suc­cess­ful. And I’ve been good at it. And that takes a cer­tain abil­i­ty. And you know, his­tor­i­cal­ly I guess there’s nev­er real­ly been a business-man, or busi­nessper­son, elect­ed President. It’s always been a gen­er­al or a politi­cian. Throughout his­to­ry it’s always been a general—you had to be a gen­er­al, but most­ly it was politi­cians. You nev­er have a businessman.

And then, in all fair­ness I was say­ing to Klaus last night, had the oppos­ing par­ty, to me, won—some of whom you backed—some of the peo­ple in the room—instead of being up almost 50%—the stock mar­ket is up since my elec­tion almost 50%. Rather than that I believe the stock mar­ket from that lev­el, the ini­tial lev­el, would’ve been down close to 50%—that’s where we were head­ing. I real­ly believe that. Because they were going to put on mas­sive new reg­u­la­tions. You could­n’t breathe. It was chok­ing our coun­try to death. And I was able to see that, Klaus, as a businessperson.

The oth­er thing is I’ve always seemed to get, for what­ev­er rea­son, a dis­pro­por­tion­ate amount of press or media. [laugh­ter] Throughout my whole life. Somebody will explain some­day why. but I’ve always got­ten a lot. [laugh­ter] And as busi­ness­man I was always treat­ed real­ly well by the press. You know, the num­bers speak and things hap­pen. But I’ve always real­ly had a very good press. And it was­n’t till I became a politi­cian that I real­ized how nasty, how mean, how vicious, and how fake the press can be—as the cam­eras start going off in the back. [laugh­ter, clapping]

But over­all, I mean the bot­tom line—somebody said well, they could­n’t’ve been that bad because here we are. We’re President. And I think we’re doing a real­ly great job with my team. I have a team of just tremen­dous peo­ple. And I think we’re doing a very spe­cial job. And I real­ly believe it was time. And it was time to do that job. Because I don’t think the United States would’ve done very well if it went through four or eight more years of reg­u­la­tion, and real­ly a very anti-business group of people.

We have a very pro-business group. We have reg­u­la­tions cut to a level—in the his­to­ry of our coun­try, Klaus, this was report­ed recent­ly. In one year we’ve cut more reg­u­la­tions in my admin­is­tra­tion than any oth­er admin­is­tra­tion in four, eight, or six­teen years in the one case. We’ve cut more reg­u­la­tions in one year, and we have a ways to go. I mean, we’re prob­a­bly 50% done—and we’re going to have reg­u­la­tion. There’s noth­ing wrong with rules and reg­u­la­tions; you need em. But we’ve cut more than any admin­is­tra­tion ever in the his­to­ry of our coun­try, and we still have a ways to go. So I think between that and the tremen­dous tax cuts, we’ve real­ly done something.

And one oth­er thing I said, and I saw it last night with some of the lead­ers and the busi­ness­peo­ple. I think I’ve been a cheer­leader for our coun­try. And every­body rep­re­sent­ing a com­pa­ny or a coun­try has to be a cheer­leader, or no mat­ter what you do it’s just not going to work. And the rea­son I’m a cheer­leader is because it’s easy. Because I love our coun­try, and I think we’re just doing real­ly well. And we look for­ward to see­ing you in America, spe­cial place, and where you are is a spe­cial place also. Thank you all very much. I appre­ci­ate it. [applause]

Schwab: Thank you. Thank you very much Mr. President for being with us.

The World Economic Forum com­mu­ni­ty who is assem­bled here will be certainly—and I quote you from the last piece of your remarks, will cer­tain­ly be among the hard-working men and women who do their duty each and every day mak­ing this world a bet­ter place for every­one. Thank you very much [audi­ence] for being with us.

Trump: Thank you. Thank you very much every­body, thank you.

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