Close eye from Wales on US economy under Donald Trump

Donald Trump Image copyright AP

For 70 years America has been the biggest inward investor into Wales and because of that firms from the United States have a significant impact on the Welsh economy.

Investment from US firms accounts for 40% of the foreign money invested in Wales.

There are around 275 US owned companies operating in Wales, employing around 48,000 people in Wales.

Half of them are in high-end manufacturing from aerospace to mobile phone technology.

The biggest on Welsh soil is GE Aircraft Engine Systems at Nantgarw with a turnover in Wales of £1.9bn.

Image caption GE Aircraft Engine Systems at Nantgarw is the biggest US employer in Wales

After manufacturing, life sciences - which includes firms involved in bio-tech and medical advancements - is another area with significant investment from North America. They make up 12% of the sector.

There are household names too, like car-maker Ford, which has 1,850 people working at its Bridgend engine plant.

Chemical company Dow Corning has been in Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, since 1971 and employs 500 workers.

Defence manufacturer General Dynamics is another, creating jobs at Merthyr and Oakdale, Caerphilly county.

From the hi-tech field, cyber security firm Alert Logic set up its European HQ in Cardiff two years ago.

Trade between Wales and the US was lower in the second quarter of 2016 compared with the previous 12 months.

However exports from Wales to the USA were still £2.7bn while imports from the US to Wales were valued at £0.6bn.

Image copyright Thinkstock

During his election campaign Donald Trump said that he wanted to tear up the international free trade rules and become more protectionist with trade barriers.

In his domestic economic policy he has talked about backing big infrastructure projects to create jobs.

On Wednesday, the US Dollar has fallen and Wall Street was braced for big falls when it opened at 14:00hrs GMT. Those falls may just be short term reaction by the international markets.

What is clear however is that if US firms feel confident about the future of the US economy and trade with the UK, those firms in Wales may well expand.

However, if the US economy goes into a downturn as it did in 2008, then that can be expected to be met by contraction and job losses in Wales.

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