ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott on potential impacts of a trade war

Finance


ANZ, the third-largest lender in Australia, has spent the last few years fine-tuning operations to focus on corporate and institutional clients — helping them to move products and money around the Asia Pacific region.

That business focus may make ANZ more vulnerable to any disruption to the global trading system.

In recent weeks, the U.S. and China threatened to impose tariffs on each other’s goods. The International Monetary Fund’s managing director Christine Lagarde on Wednesday warned that the system governing global trade is at risk of being torn apart.

But Elliott said the bank has not been hit by the escalating trade tensions between the two largest economies in the world. If the situation deteriorates, some direct impact is likely, the CEO acknowledged, adding that the bigger worry is that the conflict could hurt the wider economy.

“I don’t think businesses like any kind of conflict, trade war because it really raises the level of uncertainty and makes people really cautious,” he said.

Elliott explained that, if the current situation escalates into a trade war, consumers and businesses would tighten their purse strings. That could affect economic growth — a scenario that’s “not good for anybody.” That’s especially true for Australia, a trade-dependent country.



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