Trump to tech CEOs: We're there for you

Tech summit sees Trump ask companies for ideas on cross-border trade reform

President-elect Donald Trump kicked off a meeting with U.S. tech leaders on Wednesday by promising his administration was there to help them do business and make money.

"We want you to keep going with the incredible innovation," Trump said. "There’s nobody like you in the world, in the world, there’s nobody like anyone in this room. And anything we can do to help this go along, and we’re going to be there for you."

Among the issues the tech CEOs might discuss with Trump is his proposed curbs to immigration. Silicon Valley relies on bringing in large numbers of immigrants every year or keeping them in the U.S. after college. Making immigration more difficult or restricting the number of H-1B high-skill visas available could cause tech companies problems.

In opening remarks caught by TV cameras, Trump brought up international trade. NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership were frequent targets of his criticism during the election campaign.

"We’re going to make it a lot easier for you to trade cross borders," he said. "If you have any ideas on that, that would be great because there are a lot of border restrictions, there are a lot of border problems. You probably have less of a problem than some companies. Some companies have massive problems, but we’re going to solve those problems."

In attendance were Apple's Tim Cook, Google's Eric Schmidt, Alphabet's Larry Page, Microsoft's Satya Nadella, Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg, IBM's Ginni Rommety, Tesla's Elon Musk, Oracle's Safra Catz, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Intel's Brian Krzanich, Cisco's Chuck Robbins, and Palantir's Alex Karp.

On notable absence: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Trump is a keen Twitter user, especially known for a series of controversial late night tweets, but Dorsey wasn't in attendance. It's not known if he wasn't invited or chose not to appear, but Trump did claim that there was intense interest in attending.

"I won’t tell you the hundreds of calls we’ve had asking to come to this meeting," he said. Trump said he had relied on supporter Peter Thiel to decide which companies made the cut to be on the invite list.

It's also notable that Facebook chose to send its COO, Sandberg, and not CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

"I'm excited to talk about jobs," Sandberg said as the meeting began.

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Martyn Williams

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