Friday, December 16, 2016

Will Trump’s wild card Tillerson pay out?

President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of State has caught most off guard. Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp., is widely seen as completely out of left field. However, it shouldn’t be — you just need to understand Trump’s business legacy.
One of the quotes Trump uses most from his book “The Art of the Deal” is: “Leverage, don’t make deals without it.” It is a theme the businessman constantly rehashed during the election campaign when discussing his policy of renegotiating such agreements as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and even the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal, among others.
Trump has oft stated that these agreements were not balanced enough toward American interests, and that he would be able to strike a “better deal.” Whether he is capable of this — or if it is even possible to reopen such multilateral agreements — remains to be seen, but with this in mind it should come as little surprise that his choice for America’s top diplomat should be the CEO of one of the world’s biggest companies.
Tillerson has signed agreements in some of the most challenging places in the world, including a deal with Russia to drill in the Arctic that could be valued up to $300 billion and a deal to develop oil fields in the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan.
While Trump has mostly conducted business with private individuals, Tillerson has had to deal with the very highest levels of government, and gain their trust.
It is his relationship with Vladimir Putin that has raised most eyebrows, especially as Russia-U.S. relations are at their most strained for quite some time. While some argue that he has become too close to Putin, others contend that this relationship was based purely on interests and the prospective secretary of State has no particular love for the Russian leader.
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