Maersk CEO wants to talk to US President Trump about free trade

CEO of AP Moller-Maersk, Soren Skou, wants to meet US President Donald Trump and convince him about the merits of free trade

20 August 2019 - 19:00

CEO of AP Moller-Maersk, Soren Skou, wants to meet US President Donald Trump and convince him about the merits of free trade.

The CEO of the world's biggest shipping line recently delivered a set of quarterly results that show his company has so far managed to ride out the trade war that's raging between the US and China. But he also warned that the outlook remains uncertain, with little sign of a deal being struck between the world's two biggest economies any time soon.

It's not yet clear whether Mr Skou will be among business leaders invited to meet with Mr Trump when he's in Denmark on September 2-3. But if he is, the Maersk CEO says he 'would like to talk with the president about free trade and how it creates wealth.'

Speaking at a press conference Mr Skou said that 'it's the US which has built the free trade system we have today, and I would like that we get back to that'. He also noted that Maersk handles about a tenth of the US's container trade, and that the company is an important customer of the country's armed forces.

Speaking to Bloomberg Television, Mr Skou said that that despite the trade stand-off between China and the US, Maersk has been able to 'manage the situation quite well'.

'For our business, what decides demand, that's not tariffs. That's the consumer and consumer spending. The US consumer is in a relatively good mood. Salaries are increasing. Confidence still remains relatively good,' Mr Skou said. 'Global demand has grown so far,' and 'we expect that to continue for the rest of the year.'

As to the prospect of resolving the current trade tensions between China and the US, Mr Skou said that, 'right now, there's not much that suggests a deal will be done anytime soon, as far as we can see. It seems to be going in the other direction'.

'The previous trade restrictions, imposed during 2018 and mainly led by the US and China, have reduced bilateral trade between the two countries, and it also led to shifts in trade structures. So far, US importers have shifted imports away from China to other countries such as Vietnam, Korea, Thailand, India and Mexico. The impact of the newly imposed tariff hike is expected to be significant for the US-China bilateral trade and could in isolation remove up to 0.5 per cent of global container demand in 2019 and 2020, and when US tariffs on additional $300 billion is implemented later in the year, it could result in a reduction of up to 1 per cent in 2020.'


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