By Emily Gillespie
December 18, 2018

Three-fourths of business leaders say they often apologize for President Donald Trump to their international business partners, a recent survey by Yale University has revealed.

Taken last week at the 94th annual CEO Summit, put on by the Yale School of Management’s Chief Executive Leadership Institute, the survey also showed that two-thirds of the CEOs surveyed feel that political instability—not trade—is the biggest threat to American business. The same amount of respondents reported they felt that Trump isn’t effectively leading the country on national security issues, with a majority saying they think he’s been outsmarted by Russia and North Korea.

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, senior associate dean for Leadership Studies, said in a statement that the results show how Trump and the business community have become distant, which is having an effect on how international business is being run.

“Indeed, it is astounding that the nation’s first business-leader president is so condemned by the nation’s top business leaders due to Trump’s dysfunctional negotiating style, with 88% of them stating that his negotiating style has alienated our allies,” Sonnenfeld said in the statement.

One example of a disconnect shown by the survey is on the topic of Huawei Technologies chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested earlier this month for allegedly violating U.S. sanction laws and detained in Canada.

Trump said last week that he would intervene in the case if it would result in a trade deal with China. The U.S. and China are in an ongoing tariff war, though the two countries appeared to make progress after Trump met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Argentina earlier this month.

A vast majority of business leaders—88%—believe Meng should be held on the criminal charges; only 20% supported intervention by the president.

The strained relationship has had an impact on business. Half of U.S. CEOs said they’re reducing travel to China.

“This could be as powerful a barrier to U.S. China trade as tariffs,” Sonnenfeld said in a statement.

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