By Rebecca Jacobs and Jordan Libowitz
December 13, 2019

The unbridled potential for corruption from President Trump’s decision to maintain his international businesses casts a constant shadow over American foreign policy. The latest questionable example comes in the form of two new Trump trademarks in Argentina. 

Donald Trump’s business received approval for two new trademarks in Argentina on November 6, according to a trademark database review by CREW. These are the first Argentinian trademarks that have been granted to one of Trump’s companies since he took office. A closer examination of the time frame surrounding the application and registration of these trademarks reveals that they coincided with the Trump administration’s reversals on tariffs on Argentina.

Trump’s business applied for the trademarks in late December 2017. Shortly after the close of the trademark opposition period, in May of 2018, the United States reached a deal with Argentina and a few other countries to permanently eliminate tariffs on aluminum and steel, on the condition that the countries agreed to limit steel exports.

After Argentina approved the trademarks in November, the Trump administration restored the tariffs on steel and aluminum. The president defended this abrupt action on Twitter, claiming that Argentina manipulated its currency, making it cheaper to purchase its exports abroad. Economic experts and officials from both countries denied these claims. 

While Argentina’s economy was hurt, Trump, of course, still ended up with the economic benefit of new trademarks.

It is certainly curious that Trump did not reinstate the tariffs on Argentina until after his trademarks were approved. Of course, this is not the first time that the Trump family’s trademarks ran up against American foreign policy: Since he has been President, at least 63 foreign trademarks have been granted to Trump businesses.

In addition to those, Ivanka Trump’s business received trademark approval from China right after her father agreed to work with Chinese President Xi Jinping to save jobs at the Chinese telecommunications company ZTE. Her business was later granted three more trademarks on the same day that Trump agreed to lift sanctions on the same company.

Ivanka’s company similarly applied for two trademarks in Japan the day after Trump’s election. They were later granted around the time of Vice President Mike Pence’s trip to the country. 

In October 2018 her company was granted a whopping 16 new trademarks from China, the most from any foriegn nation since Trump took office. She also received renewals for two Russian trademarks just one month before her father was elected. Ivanka was heavily involved in the Trump Tower Moscow project and was supposed to assist in the development of an “Ivanka Trump Spa” at the Trump Tower in Moscow.

Whether or not there is an apparent quid pro quo with Argentina, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that foreign governments have gotten the message from Trump’s refusal to divest from his businesses: President Trump is for sale.