Trump gets down to business
Even before he had set foot in the Oval Office, President Trump’s incoming administration website had replaced that of outgoing President Obama’s version. This was not an unusual act as some have made out and the previous website is now archived alongside that of President GW Bush and can still be accessed. However, Trump’s version does have all references to TTIP – the trade deal being negotiated with the EU – and climate change removed and replaced with support for US domestic energy production and engineering. Over the weekend, Trump has also been talking of renegotiating the NAFTA agreement involving Canada and Mexico. There will be plenty more topics to take the President’s attention in his first days in office but the website changes demonstrate that he intends to follow through on election pledges and that has implications for shipping that some might have preferred not to have come to pass. Others though may see things differently. There will for example be more opportunities for export cargoes of crude, products and LNG and if as promised more jobs are created in the coal and steel sectors in the US then there will be more disposable income for workers to spend on consumer goods. What plans if any Trump has for continuing US support for CO2 reduction and international agreements are yet to be made public but it is almost certain that they will not be anywhere near as supportive as President Obama’s were. Most expect a rowing back and perhaps a renunciation of US support for the Paris Agreement. Incidentally, in California where environmental regulations are often made at state level, a long running legal action that has nothing to do with Trump’s Federal government plans looks to be coming to a head. Some four years ago, the state introduced a cap and trade scheme for CO2 which sparked a legal challenge pursued by the California Chamber of Commerce and a collection of business interests. They argue that the cap-and-trade programme represents an unconstitutional tax. The system, intended to create a financial incentive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, requires companies to purchase permits to pollute and as such can be seen as a tax, however, the scheme did not receive the necessary two thirds support from both government houses that new taxes require. It could be that it will soon be declared illegal.