In case you’ve been living under a rock, Donald Trump has all but secured the nomination as the Republican candidate for the upcoming US Presidential elections. His rivals in the Republican camp have bowed out, unable to dislodge the support that Trump enjoys among the American electorate.
So why is this development worrying? Especially for Pakistani businesses, particularly the tech sector, and in broader terms, the country’s relations with America?
In a written statement, the Trump campaign calls for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
We take a look at a general scenario that may become reality under President Trump, should he be able to defeat his Democratic rival towards the end of the year when USA goes to the polls.
Trump’s Call for Muslim Ban to Have Wide Repercussions
Be it election rhetoric or serious threat, many agree that Trump’s xenophobia towards Muslims and other minorities will change the social fabric of America, and that too for the worse.
Businessmen, whether they are from Pakistan or any other Muslim state, will not find it easy to get their deals approved in the face of a hostile official machinery in place that attempts to rule out any dealings with ‘enemy states.’
In fact, don’t be surprised if the employment visas for foreign workers have their conditions tightened up. Silicon Valley may well see a dip in skilled talent from other countries.
The H-1B Visa for foreign workers requires the applicants to possess at least a bachelors degree. Seeing as how only 32% of America’s civilian population has a equivalent academic qualification, this can end up hurting America more than it does potential immigrants. Back home, Pakistanis with skills and talent might feel that they have no opportunity to utilize their potential.
According to a study undertaken by Matthew Slaughter, dean of Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and a former member of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush:
“The paradox I come back to is that there’s a preponderance of evidence that high-skill immigration is a dynamic force that can help the U.S. create not just jobs, but good jobs.”
Anti-China rhetoric will automatically translate into Anti-Pakistan rhetoric
Donald Trump never shies away from bashing China and its trade policies, given his focus on making ‘America great again.’ Finance and economy pundits may argue that the American economy is inexorcibly tied to China’s and that makes Trump’s musings just mere lip service.
However, having a hawkish foreign policy team under Trump’s White House may almost certainly mean taking the first steps to de-link American dependence on China.
Why is this damaging for Pakistan? This is because no country’s fortunes have been so deeply linked with that of China. Pakistan’s approach of putting all its eggs in the Chinese basket may very well make it the target of Trump’s ire.
For all its efforts in the War against terror, even Pakistan is facing trouble procuring F-16 jets from America. Congress has asked Pakistan to pay in full for them, with the White House taking a neutral line over the whole affair. Imagine if the White House also turned hostile regarding the deal. It seems Pakistan’s pals in Capitol Hill are virtually non-existent.
Make American Companies Great Again – At the Cost of Everything Else
Sure the American President is beholden to USA’s interests first and foremost. But how much of America’s progress has been the result of its talent acquisition amongst immigrants? A lot whole.
Trump’s website says he wants to introduce a requirement that would force domestic firms to “hire American workers first.”
This fact seems to have been lost on Trump and his like-minded supporters, and they think that having a white-washed workforce devoid of any merit or dedication can help America get back on its feet.
The Department of Homeland Security caps the number of skilled immigrants allowed into the U.S. each year through the H-1B visa program at 65,000 annually. And this number will go down if Trump has his way.
At the official level, this means that grants and aid that America sends to Pakistan and its other allies will be severely undercut. Pakistan receives $1 billion plus annually given its services in the war next door. And our policy makers haven’t made the partnership a strategic plank of US-Pakistan relations.
This means that Pakistan should expect cuts in development funds, even education. Many social initiatives are also expected to be hurt by this.
So what do you think? Will the ushering of President Trump bring dark clouds for Pakistani talent, companies and officialdom both? Or will the CPEC be enough to let Pakistan ride out the Trump wave for the time being? Let us know in the comments below.