SIKI MGABADELI: It’s the beginning of the month again, which means the latest Moneyweb Investor is out, and the issue is packed with analysis on listed companies and unit trusts and what to do with your money in the current crazy environment – and crazy is probably an understatement.
But something that did catch my attention because of that meeting today between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping, is the story on Donald Trump and the impact of his policies on South Africa. With me to unpack some of that is Moneyweb Investor editor Sasha Planting.
Sasha, thanks so much for your time today. I’m going to ask this question with some trepidation – is Donald Trump good for South Africa?
SASHA PLANTING: Evening, Siki. The thing that we learnt researching this story is that trying to pin down Donald Trump’s economic policies is similar to trying to shove a live octopus into a plastic packet. It just doesn’t fit.
SIKI MGABADELI: So he’s slippery?
SASHA PLANTING: No, he’s not slippery. It means his policy proposals are impossibly contradictory. So, for instance, he’s promised on the one hand to cut corporate and individual taxes. On the other hand he said that he’s going to spend a fortune on infrastructure and, at the same time, eliminate the budget deficit. Mathematically impossible.
SIKI MGABADELI: If he knew how to do that, he could fix everybody’s problems. Alright – what’s the good with the bad for South Africa in all of that?
SASHA PLANTING: Well, as far as we can see, there are some direct and indirect consequences. The direct consequences include his talk about trade agreements. He wants to renegotiate the many trade agreements that the US has around the world, and one of those obviously is our Agoa, our African Growth and Opportunity trade agreement. If he does renegotiate that, it’s broadly probably bad or negative for South Africa.
Indirectly, if he manages to do what he said, which is cut taxes, increase infrastructure spending and make it easier to do business with and in the US, that could accelerate growth in the US, and that’s good for everybody, including South Africa. It’s a rising tide that [lifts all boats].
SIKI MGABADELI: So if we watch the way that he articulates his policies and articulates what it is that he plans to do, and we see what he will and will not get right, we sit still with uncertainty, then?
SASHA PLANTING: There is too much uncertainty to make a call – is it going to be good for us or is it going to be bad for us? We are not sure. But it’s quite interesting. If you have a look at his policies, and you look at them more closely, he makes a distinction between economic globalisation and political globalisation.
Political globalisation is creating those big multinational bodies like the World Trade Organisation, the IMF, which are unelected bodies that set rules for others. He really is anti those bodies.
But economic globalisation is about companies, countries and individuals playing to their strengths, using their competitive advantage and trading freely. He is not anti that, he is pro that type of globalisation. It’s a subtle but quite interesting distinction.
SIKI MGABADELI: It’ll be interesting to see how he explains that to the Chinese president, with whom he is meeting tonight.
Thanks for your time today, Sasha. Sasha Planting is editor of the Moneyweb Investor magazine. That of course is out now.