U.S companies see trade war as top global risk

A growing number of U.S. businesses fear that an escalating trade war will stifle global economic growth.

That’s according to a new survey by Oxford Economics, which found that most of the concerns centered on fractious relations between the U.S. and China. 

About 57 percent of the companies polled by the research firm cited a trade war as the biggest single risk to the global economy, up from 41 percent in the previous three months. Another 15 percent saw merely uncertainty about trade policy, rather than the policies themselves, as one of three top concerns. 

Mr. Trump’s move to impose or threaten tariffs on a range of countries and industries, along with the risk of retaliation, is the top factor souring the mood of companies across the globe.

China on Friday said it is preparing $60 billion in tariffs in response to Mr. Trump’s escalated threats of higher tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods. Though the U.S. in July reached a truce on trade with the EU, meanwhile, a permanent agreement is far from a done deal

In reporting their second-quarter earnings, a number of companies have said tariffs are costing them money. Among those citing higher costs or potential job cuts related to rising trade tensions, according to Bloomberg: Alcoa, Caterpillar, Coca-Cola, Eastman Chemical, Electrolux, Ford, GE, GM, Harley Davidson, Illinois Tool Works, Miller Coors, Philips, Procter & Gamble, Stanley Black & Decker, Steve Madden and Tyson Foods.

The risk of protectionism in the next five years is seen as rising too, according to Oxford. Some 58 percent of those surveyed see protectionism as a “very significant” concern in what economists call the “medium term.”

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