Trump CEO Advisor Thinks President Is Wrong on Globalization

February 8, 2017, 8:02 PM UTC

An advisor on Donald Trump’s business council is voicing concerns with the President’s anti-globalization attitudes towards Mexico and other countries.

Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock (BLK), met with Trump last week as part of the President’s Strategic and Policy Forum, along with other members, including Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk and J.P. Morgan (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon. Fink, who presides over BlackRock’s more than $5 trillion in assets under management, appears to have left the meeting with serious misgivings about the direction President Trump is headed.

Speaking at the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit on Wednesday, Fink said he is worried that the Trump administration’s anti-globalization and protectionist policies could be dangerous to BlackRock, a global business with clients across more than 100 countries and offices in 30 of them, as well as to the overall stock market.

“For us to be the leading asset manager in Mexico, we have to be Mexican,” Fink said, explaining that BlackRock can’t operate simply as an American company if it expects to grow in foreign markets. “If we don’t show that we are representing their interests, for their citizens, for our clients, then we’re going to lose out.”

Trump has dealt or threatened several blows to the Mexican economy, both by insisting that multiple U.S. companies keep more of their manufacturing at home rather than send jobs south of the border, and by enacting plans to build a wall between the countries, potentially funded by a border tax on imported goods.

While Fink does not think the Trump administration is categorically opposed to globalization, their belief that “the United States should have more of that pie” by retaking a larger share of global manufacturing is problematic, the CEO said.

“I think the President does want to have strong relations with our neighbors,” Fink said. “But it’s hard to have great relationships when you take things away.”

Uncertainty over Trump’s policies is already having a negative impact on global growth, Fink asserted, as CEOs he’s spoken with in Europe and beyond have stopped making investments as a result. “I actually believe we’re in the midst of a slowdown as we speak because of all the uncertainty,” Fink said.

Fink’s statements reinforced points he made last month in his annual letter to CEOs, in which he defended the benefits of globalization against “a growing backlash.” In the letter, Fink called on large American companies to do more to “help workers adjust to a globalized world” in order to keep less skilled workers outside of major cities from being left behind.

Update: This story has been modified to include additional context to Fink’s comments.

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