Though generally positive about the outlook for 2017, corporate occupiers and investors among more than 20,000 attendees at MIPIM, the real estate show held annually in Cannes, are still unsure what effect the US administration of Donald Trump will have on the economy.
Michael Ansah, senior vice president, global real estate and facilities at US electronic giant Dell, said the company is reasonably confident about growth this year. However, executives acknowledge that the dust of a rocky 2016 has not yet settled and that this might yet influence the economy.
“One has to be cautious because the economic headwinds are still there and there is still a need for bigger collaboration between the developed countries to ensure that the growth is sustainable,” said Mr Ansah.
The election of Mr Trump is unlikely to influence the way Dell operates in the short term, however. “The CEO met with Mr Trump [in January], but it is in the normal course of doing business and ensuring that the US continues to be very important for Dell and we did not adjust our growth strategy following the election,” said Mr Ansah.
In Japan, the main source of concern among investors is not the US election, but the rise in real estate prices ahead of 2020’s Tokyo Summer Olympics, said Kanji Matsushita, general manager at Takenaka Corporation, a construction and engineering firm headquartered in Osaka.
However, Japanese investors are uncertain what direction Mr Trump’s economic policy might take, which could delay the launch of new projects. “Right now we are not really sure where Mr Trump is going so we are still being a little sceptical. But we have to see – maybe in a few months it will become more clear,” said Mr Matsushita.
Meanwhile, Russian investors encouraged by Mr Trump’s highly publicised admiration for president Vladimir Putin and the possibility of relaxing sanctions on Russia, hope that this will translate into better relations with their main trading partner, Europe, said Denis Solovyov, chief investment officer at Ulmart, St Petersburg-based e-commerce retailer.
“We saw the downturn in US-Russian relations [during Barack Obama’s administration] and the US position affected Europe’s position towards Russia,” said Mr Solovyov. “If no other conflict between the US and Russia happens, we expect the situation to improve.”