How will the UK IT channel be affected by President Trump?

The United States of America has voted for its new president. Jonathan Easton takes a look at what tech under president Trump will look like and the way it will affect the UK’s IT channel… 

The US presidential election finally came to a head last month and after the most embittered and personal campaign of recent memory, Donald Trump is to take office in the new year. Much speculation has gone on as to how the president-elect will approach the controversial topics that featured in the build up to the election, but one area that was not featured heavily was tech. And, of course, there will be a ripple effect felt right across the pond that will spill into the UK IT channel. 

“His campaign statements about stopping immigration of certain parts of humanity would wipe out approximately half of the contributing workforce in the whole IT sector. But there is a world of IT outside of the USA,” says Platinum Components partner Jon Harrison.

“In reality so many tech companies have production on a global basis I think it would be tough to really affect progress unless he did instigate restrictions on trade, but that would be counter intuitive to business and not in America or his own personal interests.”

To that point it would seem that the first shots have already been fired.

Shortly after the election, the Beijing-based Chinese government mouthpiece, Global Times, threatened to cut iPhone sales after Trump had previously said he would impose a 45 per cent tax on imports from the country. It said that “the new president will be condemned for his recklessness, ignorance and incompetence”, and called him “naive”.

One thing for certain is that Trump has been consistently anti-regulation. An area that has been the tech focus of deregulation since the election has been the FCC’s net neutrality regulations. As he is want to do, the president-elect even tweeted back in 2014 that “Obama’s attack on the internet is another top down power grab. Net neutrality is the Fairness Doctrine. Will target conservative media”. 

The GOP has largely been against net neutrality, and with the keys to the kingdom being given to the Republicans across the Presidency, the House and the Senate, it would seem like it’s open season for regulations to be ripped up. 

“If we can count on what Trump said before the election, it could be an opportunity for business to flourish.”
Nick Beer, Dynamode

Across the Atlantic, Britain’s departure from the EU (should it actually ever emerge) would leave open the possibility to follow suit and go against the EU’s net neutrality guidelines which were introduced in August. With the UK’s Conservative Government passing the ‘Snoopers Charter 2’ into law last month, there may be a link between the two governments who want a tighter grip on the internet.

A unity between the two governments might not necessarily be a bad thing though, says Dynamode’s Nick Beer: “If we can count on what Trump said before the election, in that he wants the UK to be at the top of the trade relationship with the US and the fact that the EU is less fond of the Trump success, it could be an opportunity for business to flourish.”

The ramifications of a Trump presidency however will be felt far outside of the core business side of the channel. Trump’s rhetoric has emboldened a darker side of people that many have been fighting against, explains Context’s UK and Ireland country manager Jonathan Wagstaff: “Traditionally the ICT industry (like many technical sectors) has tended to be male-dominated. Over the past few decades things have changed. The election of a major world leader who has been criticised by the press for both public and private responses towards women is not going to help.”

It is impossible to say what will happen during Trump’s time in office and predict whether business will boom or bust. The world will watch on – perhaps through its fingers – as the 45th president of the United States is sworn in on January 20th.

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