Clinton or Trump? How British business would be affected

Posted on Nov 7th, 2016 | News and opinion

This week, the people of the United States will go to the polls to elect the most powerful person in the world.

Ahead of voting opening, here’s a quick look at what impact each candidate could have on the British business community.

Hillary Clinton (Democrat)

Approach to business in a sentence

“Create the economy of tomorrow, not yesterday”

Background in business

Graduating from Yale, Hillary’s early career was focussed in law and education. As First Lady and later Senator for New York, much of her work has been centred on opening up healthcare to all and improving young people’s prospects. As Secretary of State during Obama’s presidency, Clinton travelled the globe to discuss various international trade deals.

What does she promise?

Viewed as a right-leaning Democrat, Clinton’s policies on the economy are largely based on the rhetoric of continuity. Her headline economic policies include:

  • raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour
  • raising taxes, primarily for the wealthy, with income tax rising to 45%, capital gains nearly doubling, and death tax hiked to 65%
  • tax cuts for middle classes and small businesses
  • subsidising 500 million solar panels as part of sustainable energy investment
  • offering free college tuition for students in families earning $85,000 a year or less

Who could be affected in the UK?


Brexit or no Brexit, the US will remain a large market for UK exports. Currently more than £30 billion a year of British goods end up across the Atlantic. Most commentators agree that Clinton’s “business as usual” approach would mean this would be secure.

Trade deals

While continuity may be a good thing in terms of exports, it could also be damaging for UK firms. As part of the Obama administration, Clinton has had a say in various trade agreements such as the TTIP deal with the EU. But in recent months she has been sceptical about these deals. Most agree too that if the UK enforces Brexit, Clinton – who is not a fan of the idea – would maintain Obama’s stance that the UK will “have to go to the back of the queue” to draw up a trade deal.


British universities have long flourished internationally thanks to global reputations and an emphasis on research. Institutions are particularly popular with US students, keen to avoid the $60,000 a year costs of life on North American campuses. But, with the UK sector still coming to terms with potential grant reductions due to Brexit, it could suffer a further blow with Clinton’s pledge to offer free college education to the majority.


A bit of good news here. If – and it’s a big if – Clinton’s plan to put more money in the pockets of the US middle classes fruits, then the UK could see a real spike in the number of tourists from across the pond, keen to take advantage of good exchange rates from the sliding pound.

Eco firms

With promised investment in this industry, expect the UK’s burgeoning eco and green industry to take advantage in the search for growth.


trumpDonald Trump (Republican)

Approach to business in a sentence

“I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created.”

Background in business

Claiming to be the very definition of the American success story, Trump is a billionaire who has built office towers, hotels, casinos, and golf courses. He has also successfully run beauty pageants, was the leading figure in The Apprentice USA, and has an economics degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

What does he promise?

You don’t need to be a Trumpite to know what Donald offers: an alternative to the establishment. But change is not always a good thing and can create instability, which is clearly how Wall Street feels. Whenever Donald closes the gap in the polls, the stock exchange suffers a dip. Some claim his economic policy is more like his approach to running casinos: a high-risk strategy decided by a roll of the dice. His policies include:

  • plans to reduce taxes for people in all income brackets
  • lowering the corporate tax rate to 15% from 35%
  • rejecting free trade agreements like TTIP and NAFTA
  • embracing protectionism and placing tariffs on China

Who could be affected in the UK?


Research from the Brookings Institution, an American not-for-profit public policy organisation, suggested that a Trump victory would see the US, UK, and Asian stock markets fall by between 10% to 15% in the immediate aftermath. It’s then predicted to bounce back. For those that like to dabble with high odds, it could lead to high rewards.


Core to Trump’s campaign is a scheme to set the US apart from the world, closing borders and protecting local industries. With his plans to isolate America, it could spell bad news for British exporters and the current £30 billion of annual business.


They will soon be calling me MR BREXIT!” Trump tweeted cryptically earlier this year. It was intended to sum up that, despite being behind in the polls, he could still win. But his support for Brexit goes further – as evident with guest appearances from UKIP leader Nigel Farage. He has been quoted as looking favourably on Britain’s desire for a separate trade deal if it does leave the EU. But with Donald, you can never tell.

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Written by Tim Ridgway

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