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New year, New Trump: The president will show a softer side this year, analyst says

  • Trump's Davos and State of the Union speeches showed a softer approach to international trade from previous remarks during his 2016 election campaign and first year in office.
  • Since Trump took office, trade negotiations with the EU have stopped, talks with Canada and Mexico are being assessed and an agreement in the Asia-Pacific region is going ahead after the U.S. pulled out.
President Donald J. Trump holds a glass of water before he delivers the State of the Union address as U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (L) and Speaker of the House U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) (R) look on in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives January 30, 2018 in Washington, DC.
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President Donald J. Trump holds a glass of water before he delivers the State of the Union address as U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (L) and Speaker of the House U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) (R) look on in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives January 30, 2018 in Washington, DC.

The world will see a new version of Donald Trump in 2018, a political analyst told CNBC on Wednesday after the president delivered two key speeches.

Trump told the audience at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, last week that he supported free trade, as long as it's fair, and also said he was open to bilateral agreements. During his state of the union address on Tuesday, Trump also vowed to "fix bad trade deals.

Both addresses showed a softer approach to international trade from previous remarks during his 2016 election campaign and first year in office.

"He can build a compelling argument around his successes and he can package it and that can be received well," Lindsay Newman, principal research analyst at IHS Markit told CNBC Wednesday, when asked if "teleprompter Trump" was the most recent version of the president.

"He has never said no trade deals, he said no bad trades," Newman said, noting Trump's new language at Davos. There, he said that free trade needs to be fair and reciprocal.

Since Trump took office, trade negotiations with the EU have stopped, talks with Canada and Mexico are being assessed and an agreement in the Asia-Pacific region is going ahead after the U.S. pulled out.

During his first year in office, Trump often criticized big trade agreements and blamed international partners for the U.S. trade deficit.

"Trump is Trump's best advocate, we saw that last week in Davos; he picked it up again last night," Newman told CNBC about Trump's state of the union speech.

"It was really a highlight of his greatest accomplishments from 2017, from his first year in office. We saw trade, we saw taxes, we saw deregulation, we saw the good news on the U.S. economic outlook and also a preview of what's ahead, what he hopes to see ahead in 2018."

On Tuesday, Trump mentioned the impact on workers of his changes to the tax system, promised to go ahead with big infrastructure plans and to support the American dream.

"There has never been a better time to start living the American dream," Trump said.