Before diving into a steak dinner at the World Economic Forum as the guests of the US president, leaders of major European corporations went around the table and praised their host's pro-business tax reform.
At a dinner with Donald Trump on Thursday at the World Economic Forum (WEF), EU business leaders praised the president's tax policy, which saw the US corporate tax rate slashed from 35 percent to 21 percent.
The comments from Trump's dinner guests — including the heads of German companies such as the sports behemoth Adidas, the telecommunications giant Siemens and the pharmaceutical producer Bayer — contrasted with the prior remarks of world politicians who expressed concern about Trump's "America first" protectionist policies.
Members of Trump's cabinet were also present at the dinner in Davos, Switzerland, where international politicians and policymakers and business leaders are taking part in the yearly WEF to discuss the state of the global economy.
Thanks for the dinner — and the tax cuts
Trump described the roughly 15 business executives he had invited to dine on beef tenderloin with him as "some of the greatest business leaders in the world," according to AP. He also asked the men take turns talking about how their companies were faring in the United States. Many executives mentioned the business-friendly tax overhaul Trump signed into law at the end of last year as a positive omen for investment and growth.
Siemens President Joe Kaiser congratulated Trump on his tax reform and cited the legislation as the reason why the company chose to develop gas turbines in the US, according to the German news agency dpa. The company shared its pride in its executive leader taking part in the dinner with Trump on Twitter:
Patrick Pouyanne, chairman and CEO of Total, a French energy producer and one of the world's largest oil companies, also announced his intention to "do more" in the US thanks to the tax cuts, dpa reported. Pouyanne tweeted his thanks at Trump for the dinner invitation:
The Norwegian energy company Statoil also expressed its gratitude to Trump, citing the $2.5 billion (€2 billion) it pumps into the US economy every year. When sharing remarks, Statoil's head, Eldar Saetra, also praised Trump's broader economic deregulation efforts, calling them "good news," dpa said.
Many European multinationals have production facilities and investments in the United States, employing tens of thousands of Americans in the process. In discussing his reasons for attending the Davos forum, Trump told the broadcaster CNBC on Wednesday that he was focused on "lots of people that want to invest lots of money, and they're coming back to America."
America's attractive market
Some European CEOs were guarded in their position toward US tax reform. In advance of the dinner, Adidas head Kasper Rorsted said in a TV interview with German newspaper Die Welt that the tax cuts were not an incentive for the sports giant to increase its investment in the US. Instead, he emphasized that the US's appeal lies in its huge consumer market. "America is a very attractive market for us — before Trump and with Trump," Rorsted said.
Not every company invited was represented at the dinner with Trump. Reuters reported that at least two executives chose not to attend the affair to avoid shaking Trump's hand.
Earlier on Thursday at Davos, Trump held a bilateral meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The US president will give his speech on Friday.