President-elect Donald Trump: What does it mean for HR in Asia?

Jobs and talent mobility are set to be thrust into the spotlight following Donald Trump’s shock win over Hillary Clinton in the US Presidential Election.

As the dust settles on the fact that Donald Trump will be the 45th President of the United States, attention will now quickly turn towards his impending policies on a broad spectrum of issues. While HR may not be at the forefront of his thoughts, the global HR community will most certainly be monitoring developments eagle-eyed.

So, what exactly does his win spell out for HR in Asia?

For one, jobs that were “stolen” from America and shunted to other nations are at major risk of being uprooted and transferred back to the former.

Employees in Singapore, particularly in Baxter Health Care Corporation, may want to take note.

Trump specifically cited the organisation as one of many that transferred its operations from the US to move to cheaper locations.

He claimed that Baxter Health Care retrenched 199 employees and shifted its jobs to Singapore, while also pointing out that Goodrich Lighting Systems made 255 workers in the US redundant and transferred positions to India.

“It’s getting worse and worse and worse,” he said.

During one of his recent rallies in Florida, Trump singled out Singapore, China, India and Mexico as countries that were plundering jobs from Americans.

“America has lost 70,000 factories since China entered the World Trade Organisation, another Bill (Clinton) and Hillary-backed disaster,” he said.

“We are living through the greatest jobs theft in the history of the world. There’s never been a country that’s lost jobs like we do (and it’s) so easy to solve.”

The President-elect said under his administration, he would impose a 35% tax on any US firm that sought to move operations to another country, and then transfer products back into the US as imports.

This could well mean thousands of jobs globally being displaced with Trump eager for US firms to return home to resume operations and re-offer employment to its citizens.

“Job-killing” TPP

Another potential nightmare for business and HR comes in the form of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP.

What was once regarded as the crown jewel of Barack Obama’s presidency, the TPP trade deal has become more of a punching bag for not only Trump, but other presidential hopefuls too.

Trump has repeatedly vowed to quash the TPP, even deriding it as “job-killing”.

The TPP, which has been agreed but not yet ratified, comprises of 12 countries: the US, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile, and Peru.

The agreement seeks to widen economic partnerships between these countries by cutting tariffs and deepening trade ties.

Trump however, firmly believes the TPP does not benefit the US, arguing it would result in US manufacturing jobs being displaced.

Talent mobility at stake?

Given Trump’s core economic policies centre around protecting local jobs and fostering economic development internally, will global talent mobility be stifled? Will the US remain receptive towards bringing in foreign talents into the country? And will HR be able to facilitate talent mobility plans that involve dispatching employees to the US for training and career development?

Another potential talent mobility quagmire could be the fate of foreign Muslim employees working in the US, many of whom have relocated from the Asia-Pacific region.

Some months ago, Trump had called “for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the US”.

While he has somewhat softened this stance since, the global Muslim workforce will also be closely watching proceedings.

As the world awaits Trump’s inauguration in January, the HR community will be keeping a keen eye on President Trump’s policies and declarations in the months that follow.

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