Sweden's Wallenberg Says Can't Point Fingers in Trade Turmoil

(Bloomberg) -- Marcus Wallenberg, one of the heads of Sweden’s most powerful industrial family, says there’s no use in playing a blame game over who’s responsible for a potential trade war breaking out.

Wallenberg, who earlier this month traveled with Sweden’s prime minister to visit U.S. President Donald Trump, said no one gains from protectionism since in the long-run trade is something that’s positive for the global economy.

“I think one has to be aware that it’s not only one country that’s doing this, but several nations,” Wallenberg said in an interview Monday in Stockholm. “Therefore it’s difficult to point a finger in just one direction.”

The U.S. president has this month imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum and also slapped tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese imports, sparking retaliatory measures and a selloff in U.S. stocks. Trump is seeking to bring down U.S. trade deficits and also ordered the tariffs after his officials concluded Beijing engages in a range of policies that violate U.S. intellectual property.

Wallenberg said the global economy has been heading in the right direction for a while now and one can “hope” that doesn’t change.

“But of course we now have monetary policy that’s about to change, with rate changes and liquidity changes, and at the same time protectionism is being discussed a whole lot more,” he said. “So it’s important we don’t shake up the stability we have right now.”

And while the stock market has taken a hit recently, Wallenberg said it was hard to say whether that is a sign of an asset bubble.

Wallenberg is chairman of Saab AB, Swedish lender SEB AB, and is also vice chairman of the Wallenberg investment company, Investor AB.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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