Amid sell-off, tech sector hopes Trump will make a deal on key issues

Former US CTO on Trump and Silicon Valley

Now that "Trump: The Art of the Deal" author Donald Trump has been elected U.S. president, the tech sector may be hoping he'll be open to negotiations, the former U.S. tech chief said.

"Let's hope that President-elect Trump takes on the dealmaker role," former U.S. chief technology officer Aneesh Chopra told CNBC's "Squawk Alley" on Friday.

Though stock markets rallied in the sessions following Trump's election, tech stocks suffered. While Trump's campaign promised to crack down on key tech issues like immigration and jobs, there could be an opportunity to compromise on issues like infrastructure and taxes, experts said.

Eric Schmidt
Nicholas Kamm | AFP | Getty Images

Visas for high-skilled foreign workers — called H1-B visas — are currently capped in the U.S., inciting calls for reform from tech leaders like Google's Eric Schmidt, who spoke from the DealBook Conference in New York City on Thursday.

Schmidt said Google has brilliant engineers who are languishing in condos in Canada waiting to get to work. When the U.S. kicks out highly educated foreign engineers, "they go and build competitors to our companies," he said. But during his campaign, Trump was critical of tech's reliance on foreign workers, saying it prevented companies from hiring diverse, local talent.

The H1-B visa might be reformable, Chopra said on Friday, so that more of the higher-end, really competitive, distinguished capabilities are taken into account. He said that PayPal co-founder and Trump supporter Peter Thiel could help that message resonate with Trump's camp.

Most everything these days that's done, whether it's industrial, or manufacturing, involves technology.
John Canally
Chief economic strategist at LPL Financial

"My hope is that 'talent, talent, talent' becomes the new mantra to lift up those that are struggling in the economy," Chopra said. "That's a message that both parties have had a commitment to advance, maybe in slightly different approaches. But the core question is, can technology, data and innovation be a resource or a helper to make sure that everybody has the opportunity to get the skills they need to compete for the jobs of tomorrow."

Trump has been vocal on bringing more manufacturing jobs into the U.S., which could involve new technology to make it cost-effective. But that's not the biggest opportunity available from Trump's current plans, Chopra said.

"Smart manufacturing enables you to bring more and more of production jobs into the U.S. ... Technological advantages in the manufacturing process will economically make U.S.- based manufacturing more competitive, but the impact to the economy may not be as great," Chopra said. "The bigger opportunity is if he moves an infrastructure bill forward."

John Canally, chief economic strategist at LPL Financial, also thought tech could be a beneficiary of infrastructure spending.

"Most everything these days that's done, whether it's industrial, or manufacturing, involves technology," Canally said. "And I think the sector that's benefiting the most is financials. The financial sector is the biggest spender on tech. So tech's going to benefit there as well."

Another optimistic trend could be Trump's proposal of a repatriation tax holiday, which could let tech companies bring some of their foreign cash holdings back to the U.S. at a more favorable rate, said Brian Jacobsen, Wells Fargo chief portfolio strategist.

Still, tech investors have had to swallow a bitter pill this week when it comes to policy, Jacobsen said. In addition to Trump's stance on immigration, conditions in China also became more challenging.

Trump has said he will impose tariffs on Chinese goods, though companies like Amazon trade heavily there. At $8.8 billion, China was the third-largest market for Apple last quarter, for example. China also passed a cybersecurity law on Monday that will tighten political controls on the internet.

Meanwhile, tech companies that have a lot of growth left ahead of them might suffer if interest rates are likely to see an uptick, because it makes their future cash less valuable, Jacobsen said.