Julia Irvine 13 Jun 2018 09:50am

US business fears impact of tariffs and trade wars

Concerns about tariffs and trade wars have dampened American business executives’ optimism about US economic prospects

A majority (52%) of chief executives, CFOs and other senior level accountants believe that a protectionist approach to trade policy will have a deleterious effect on the US economy, research by the AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants) reveals. This compares to just 16% who think that the economy will benefit.

The research, which forms part of the latest AICPA Economic Outlook, found that 38% of those surveyed were worried (9% seriously so) about potential trade conflicts between the US and its major trading partners, while 40% said their business would be adversely impacted by the imposition of US tariffs or by potential retaliation from trading partners.

Major concerns surrounding the trade tensions included the risk of a global economic slowdown (35%), rising business costs (20%) and rising prices on goods and services (19%).

Interestingly, 84% thought that Brexit would have a neutral impact on their business. Of the rest, 10% were unsure, 1% thought it would have a positive impact and 4% felt their business would suffer.

The survey – of 831 senior business leaders – was carried out over the fortnight to 23 May, a week before the US administration announced it was imposing steel and aluminium tariffs for some trading partners.