A Trump victory could send jitters through exporters

By David Porter

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A Trump victory could send shockwaves through New Zealand's export industry. Photo/File
A Trump victory could send shockwaves through New Zealand's export industry. Photo/File

Whoever wins today's United States presidential election will face a tough time in congress, say business and political sources.

The downsides of a victory by Donald Trump include major uncertainty, the possibility of increased trade barriers and a Brexit-like plunge in the US dollar - which would impact the Bay's exporters.

But continuing congressional gridlock is likely for whoever wins given the fractured state of American politics and the closeness of the campaign, notes Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller who recently spent three weeks in the US observing the campaign.

And that would have the potential to inflict long-term damage on the US' ability to project its vision and agenda globally, he said.

Most of the businesspeople and analysts spoken to by the Bay of Plenty Times said they were simply hoping for some certainty and business as usual, which was thought most likely to be the case if Hillary Clinton won.

Priority One interim chief executive Greg Simmonds said the general comment he had been picking up from the business community was a preference for a Clinton administration.

"We have a lot of exporters here and the US market is a key one for them," he said.

"A Clinton administration would provide a bit more certainty around the direction things are heading."

Mark Lister, a senior analyst for Craigs Investment Partners, said Clinton represented a business as usual outcome.

"If we wake up and it's Clinton, we carry on as we are. The risks a Trump presidency could introduce are mainly to do with trade. He wants to reverse some of those globalisation trends and be a bit more of a protectionist leader.

"Anything that restricts trade around the world is a negative for us. It could force a slowdown in global economic growth and would see some of those trade pathways tightening up."

Greg Jarvis, chief executive of Blue Lab, a leading Tauranga exporter, said he would be concerned at any discussion around increasing trade barriers.

And he was among the sources who felt an unexpected outcome - in the form of a Trump win - could weaken the US dollar, which would put pressure on New Zealand exporters.

"Any kind of increase in uncertainty as to the US' direction will likely weaken the US dollar and cause some pain and suffering for our exporters," said Mr Jarvis.

Darrin Walsh, chief executive of the Rotorua Chamber of Commerce, said there were concerns that under a Trump administration the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement would go out the window and never be signed off by the US.

"But true power comes from the Senate and Congress rather than the president, so what one person talks about at this stage may never eventuate," he said.

Mr Muller said that going into final stages it looked as if Clinton would win, but he believed the Republicans would hold the Congress.

"That will be an incredibly septic and toxic environment - even more than it has been in the last eight years with Obama," he said.

"Partisan politics is at its most extreme and I think America will leave opportunity and global influence at the door of history.

"It is going to constrain America's ability to confidently portray a vision and agenda around the world stage.

"Other world players are going to see they might be able to talk a good game, but they are going to be distracted and hamstrung domestically."

Congressional politics

- US voters will also be voting to fill 34 of the 100 US Senate seats, and all 435 House of Representative seats.

- Both the House and Senate are currently controlled by Republicans.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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