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The head of Cargill, one of the biggest privately-owned companies in the US, said the risk of a trade conflict between the US and China had risen, as he defended global trade and open borders.

Speaking at the FT Commodities Global Summit in Lausanne, David MacLennan said “the risk [of conflict] given the rhetoric and given the mentality and emotions in the United States and the world, has gone up,” although he added that there were many business people in the new administration who understand the benefits of globalisation.

His comments come as the new US administration has promised to pursue an ‘American first’ economic policy which some believe could usher in a new era of protectionism.

“Trade agreements can serve as a very easy scapegoat for a wide range of social challenges. Trade is not the reason that citizens face hardships around the world, but is now a very convenient excuse,” he said, adding, “trade, keeping borders open borders is really important to the US economy.”

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.

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