Whether you agree with him or not, President Trump’s criticism of business arrangements with China, as well as Canada and Mexico through the North American Free Trade Agreement, are founded in striking a fairer deal for the U.S. “He’s bordering on obsession with trade balance,” says Massari. “Travel is one of the best ways to balance an imbalance, [as it’s] one of the country’s biggest exports.” How that translates to events: The more international meetings, conventions and conferences are held in the U.S., the more leverage Trump and his team have in other economic discussions. Massari is confident Trump will visibly support initiatives for increasing international travel, which will assist airlines, hotels and destinations alike.
If the tough talk and early executive orders isolate the United States, the country’s economy will suffer. Van Deventer says he fielded many questions from concerned peers when traveling to Europe and Asia in the weeks following Trump’s election. Some of the fears, notes Van Deventer, stem from other countries’ misperceptions of how the U.S. government works. “They have an understanding the U.S. is a monarchy,” he says. “I think things will move much slower than my international colleagues are going to expect.” Courts blocking the refugee ban are an example of the country’s checks and balances.
As we’ve already seen, any shift in trade policy—as with most government interactions—will face close scrutiny in the courts. In other words, it will be business as usual in Washington, says John Russell, a D.C.-based attorney in the Public Policy and Regulation practice at Dentons. “You’ll see what happened in the Obama administration happen here, except the plaintiffs will change,” says Russell, who’s given talks on the new administration at industry events like last year’s Holiday Showcase in Chicago. Litigation may tie up changes, but Russell predicts one visible shift will be where foreign dignitaries rest their heads during U.S. visits. “I think foreign governments will look to do something at a Trump property to curry favor,” he says, comparing the concept to international leaders donating to the Clinton Global Initiative while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.